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After Pregnancy Blues: Your Risk for Postpartum Depression

  • Category: Maternity
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After Pregnancy Blues: Your Risk for Postpartum Depression

It is the moment you have waited for … your baby has finally arrived! But once the adrenaline of labor and delivery fades and the newness of parenthood sets in, some women are left with extreme feelings of sadness and anxiety, hopelessness or severe mood swings.

For many women, these feelings go away in just a few days, but for others, these feelings continue and can impact everyday life, your connection with your baby and more.

“Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, including quite a bit of hormonal changes,” explains William K. Hahn, Jr., MD, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist on the Medical Staff at Southwest General. “Subsequently, the swing in hormones post-pregnancy can leave some women with severe feelings of sadness or anxiety known as postpartum depression. However, know that you are not alone. In fact, one in nine new moms will experience postpartum depression, but we are here to help.”

Is It Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression—or depression after childbirth—is a serious mental illness that can impact your behavior and physical health. While symptoms may be masked by normal physical and mental changes after pregnancy, you should seek support if you experience any of the following symptoms of depression for more than two weeks:

  • Restlessness or moodiness
  • Sadness, hopelessness or feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying a lot
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or on your baby
  • Lack of interest in, or feeling disconnected from, your baby
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Under or overeating
  • Under or oversleeping
  • Inability to focus or make decisions
  • Forgetfulness and other memory troubles
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or that you are a bad mother
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Aches and pains, stomach problems or headaches that will not subside

Am I At Risk for Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression may be triggered by hormonal changes post-birth when your levels of estrogen and progesterone quickly return to normal (pre-pregnancy levels). The following also may contribute to postpartum depression:

  • Exhaustion from labor and delivery
  • Lack of sleep
  • Being overwhelmed with the baby
  • Feeling doubtful about your ability to be a good parent
  • Feeling stressed about changes in routine at work and home
  • Feeling grief over the loss of who you were pre-baby
  • Feeling you are unattractive

Your risk for postpartum depression is higher if you:

  • Have a history of depression or bipolar disorder—either you personally or within your family
  • Lack a support network of friends and family
  • Experienced antepartum depression (or depression during pregnancy)
  • Had problems with prior pregnancies or births
  • Are facing financial or relationship troubles
  • Are under the age of 20
  • Are facing alcoholism or substance use
  • Have a baby with special needs
  • Have difficulty breastfeeding
  • Had an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy

Should l Seek Help?

Admitting you are feeling depressed may be difficult. Some new moms do not seek support because they feel embarrassed, ashamed or even guilty for having these feelings. Remember that seeking support is important if:

  • Your “baby blues” last longer than two weeks
  • Your feelings of depression continue to get worse
  • You experience depression within one year of delivery—and these symptoms last more than two weeks
  • You experience difficulty working or getting things done at home
  • You cannot care for yourself or your baby
  • You think about hurting yourself or your baby

Treatment for Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is treatable. Seek care from your physician as soon as you start to feel symptoms. Additionally, some things you can do at home include:

  • Get rest—many veteran moms will tell you to sleep while your baby is sleeping.
  • Take each day one at a time—do not overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much, ask for help and do not make major life changes right after giving birth.
  • Make time for you—get out of the house, visit with friends or spend some alone time with your partner.
  • Talk—discuss your feelings with your support network, talk with other new moms about their experiences or join a support group.

Leaving postpartum depression untreated can negatively impact you as a parent as well as the development and well-being of your baby. If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression, call 440-816-5050 or visit our website.