Postpartum Blues refers to a mild and brief episode of distress occurring in up to 80% of new mothers within the first few weeks after childbirth. A woman can feel weepy, exhausted, anxious or tense, but these feelings generally resolve after the first few weeks. If not, then it is possible that the condition is actually postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression is more than the “baby blues.” It may occur immediately after birth or many months later. It can happen after any birth, not just the first time. Up to 15% of new mothers can develop postpartum depression.
The symptoms can develop gradually or have a sudden onset, and they include:
- feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, isolation
- crying for no obvious reason
- sleeping problems, insomnia or excessive sleepiness
- eating problems such as loss of appetite or binge eating
- frightening thoughts or fantasies
- the feeling that something is “not right”
Postpartum Depression is different from the normal stress and exhaustion most parents experience when adjusting to a new baby. It can be a serious health condition that can interfere with a woman’s ability to take proper care of herself, her new baby and/or her family. It is also quite treatable, but only if the person asks for help. There are safe medications that can be taken while breastfeeding which are very effective at treating this condition.
The following strategies have been shown to help prevent postpartum depression:
- The responsibilities of motherhood are learned, so try to prepare in advance
- Get help from husband, dependable friends, and relatives
- Make friends with other couples who are experienced with child-bearing
- Don't overload yourself with unimportant tasks
- Don't move to a new home soon after the baby arrives
- Don't be overly concerned with keeping up appearances of either yourself or your surroundings
- Get plenty of rest and sleep!
- Don't be a nurse or social hostess to relatives and others at this time
- Confer and consult with husband, family and experienced friends, and discuss your feelings and concerns
- Arrange for babysitters, you need some down time
Postpartum Health Alliance at 310-915-7028 or 916-349-7830
Postpartum Net (www.postpartum.net)