Childbirth is a magical time for all mothers. As soon as your baby is born, all the maternal feelings and parental knowledge just magically appear out of nowhere, right? Wrong. For many women, this may not be the case. Some women struggle with feelings of anxiety, sadness, and insecurity about taking care of their baby after delivery. Some women may even feel powerless to take care of themselves. If you are a new mother or father, it is common to experience mood swings, anxiety, insecurity, and apprehension shortly after birth. Sometimes, however, these feelings can escalate and develop into postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is more than just the "baby blues". 1 in 9 new mothers develop postpartum depression at some point during the first year after delivery. Symptoms of postpartum depression last beyond the first 2 weeks after birth and can start at any time during the first year of your baby's life. Symptoms can include:
- Feeling empty, sad, or overwhelmed
- Feeling irritable or moody
- Crying for no reason
- Having difficulty with memory and concentration
- Having difficulty making decisions
- Not enjoying activities you once enjoyed
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Feeling like you are unable to care for your baby
You may be at a higher risk for postpartum depression if you:
- Have a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder
- Do not have support from family or friends
- Were depressed during pregnancy
- Had problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
- Have relationship or money issues
- Are younger than 20 years old
- Have alcoholism, use illegal drugs, or have some other problem with drugs
- Have a baby with special needs
- Have difficulty breastfeeding
- Have an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
Taking care of a newborn is hard work. It is often difficult to find time to take care of yourself when your baby needs constant attention. Feelings of anger, worry or sadness can make new mothers feel guilty and even severely defective. But rather than becoming more secretive, this is exactly the time that it is vital to confide in your partner, trusted friends, and especially your healthcare provider. Expressing feelings out loud helps bring clarity to the situation and reminds us that the feelings we have are not a reflection of who we are or what kind of parent we will be. Ask your friends and family for help with the baby so that you can take care of yourself. Confide in your healthcare provider so that you can recieve the emotional support and assistance to live a happy, healthy life with your growing family.
A number of studies have suggested that, although men do not experience any of the dramatic physiologic or hormonal changes that go along with pregnancy, new fathers may also suffer from postpartum depression. Actually, studies have shown that 10-26% of new fathers suffer from this condition between 3-6 months after delivery. Men with postpartum depression may experience irritability, anger, resentment, and aggression. Men may often try to escape their stress through drinking, working longer hours, or even violent outbursts. Men can even experience physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach pain. It is important to understand that paternal postpartum depression is a medical condition and not a weakness of character. For a man to admit he is depressed is not unmanly or admitting defeat, it is taking charge of his life.
Counseling and medication are effective in treating mood disorders, including postpartum depression. Treatment can improve your symptoms or make them go away entirely. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. Your treatment can begin only when your depression is identified. When asked how you are doing during your visits, be honest. There is no reason to feel embarrassed about your feelings. Mood disorders like depression and anxiety are medical conditions that require treatment. Make sure to follow up on any treatments or referrals your doctor gives you.
If you are dealing with postpartum depression, you are not alone. Help is available, and you can feel better.
Premier OB-Gyn is accepting new patients in both our Maitland, FL and Oviedo, FL locations. We would be happy to see you! Please call 321-397-1212 or visit www.premierob-gyn.com to book your appointment!