A note from the Editor: For the remainder of the week, we will be featuring blog posts from guest contributors to The Mommicles. We are so excited to have additional perspectives and insights into parenthood brought to us by our Mommicles Community. After this week, The Mommicles will be on a two week holiday break. Don’t fear, we will be back with all new content in the new year!
By Cassie Christensen, Guest Contributor
Becoming a new mom can be extremely challenging: getting used to life with a newborn, lack of sleep, new responsibilities, and the physical effects of childbirth. Not to mention, the deep emotional pain that some women feel after childbirth that doesn’t seem to let up. While some people get ‘baby blues’, that will typically go away after a week or two, Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a severe form of clinical depression that is related to pregnancy and childbirth. You may be surprised to learn that 1 in 7 women with newborns report experiencing PPD.
What are ‘Baby Blues’?
There is no doubt that giving birth is one of the most emotional and tiring experiences which drastically changes your hormones. Due to this, many women experience what’s known as the “baby blues”. This usually occurs during the first few days post-birth. It may cause you to feel teary, anxious, and irritable with highly fluctuating moods. These feelings usually last 2-3 days and then subside. The baby blues are extremely common, especially if your labor was difficult or you are having issues with certain adjustments, such as breastfeeding. The most effective thing that helps the baby blues is a strong support system and a clear understanding that it will pass. If the symptoms do not pass, this could be a sign that you may be experiencing Postpartum Depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a mood disorder that makes it difficult for mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves or the baby. It’s also much more common than most people realize. In fact, 15% of births result in PPD. The experience is due to the quick drop of estrogen and progesterone after childbirth. These chemical changes trigger mood swings, along with the inability to get proper sleep after birth. The most important thing to remember is that it is never the mother’s fault when this happens.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Excessive crying
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Physical aches and pains
- Over- or under-eating
- Trouble forming attachment to the baby
- Thinking of self-harm or harm to the baby
Due to the severity of some of the symptoms, PPD requires treatment from a professional.
Treating Postpartum Depression
Many women feel shame when thinking that they are unable to care for their babies properly, which prevents them from seeking treatment. Another large percentage of women feel so overwhelmed with their baby and symptoms that they do not realize they are experiencing Postpartum Depression. If you notice the symptoms in someone you love, pay attention to them and help them find the treatment they need. Left untreated, PPD can last for months or years.
There are two types of effective treatments for PPD:
- Talk therapy: This involves talking with a therapist who is experienced with treating Postpartum. For the best results, make sure you are seeing your therapist at least weekly in the beginning.
- Medication: A psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressant medications that are involved with mood regulations. Most medications take a few weeks to be effective. Make sure you check with your doctor about the effects of medication with breastfeeding.
Treatment is found to be the most effective when the mother has a combination of both talk therapy and medication.
Cassie is a talk therapist & co-founder of Modern Therapy, a tele-mental health company. She specializes in working with parents and families through phone and video sessions. She often provides clients with practical techniques based on humanistic psychology to find knowledge, growth, healing & fulfillment.