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Postpartum Depression: What I Wish I Knew

I wish that someone would have told me that it is normal to feel a little sad and anxious after my first baby was born. And it's normal for my partner to feel the same. Yes, it is ok to feel sad and nervous after the birth of a baby. MANY new moms feel weepy and anxious. These mild symptoms are normal and in fact can be referred to as the “Baby Blues.” The blues go away with rest, food, support, and time, usually within two weeks after your baby is born.


Symptoms may be brushed off as “just the baby blues” leaving parents feeling like their emotions are not valid. As someone who has depression and takes prozac every day, I was already at risk for experiencing postpartum depression…I wish that I would have known that when I was in my 20’s as a new mom.

It is a MYTH that immediately upon delivery you will feel joy, connection and bliss. Up to 1 in 5 of all pregnant and new mothers have more lasting depression or anxiety. Postpartum depression or anxiety is more than a mild feeling of sadness or anxiousness. ​These feelings may be difficult to talk about because of the negative stigma associated with mental health. Think about five of your friends or family and know that at LEAST one of them has felt how you are feeling.




​“I felt like I was supposed to be happy because we worked so hard to have this baby. If I wasn’t always happy, then did I really deserve to have our new baby. I was putting on a happy face for everyone else.”


Depression and anxiety may get in the way of doing everyday activities, like taking care of yourself and your baby. They are long lasting and won’t go away on their own. These feelings go beyond what people may experience when they have a bad day or are nervous about an upcoming event. They are also more than “just feeling moody” or having the “baby blues.” But they are treatable, which is why it’s important to get help.


Researchers believe that depression is one of the most common problems women experience during and after pregnancy.



I wish that someone would have told me how to deal with the postpartum sleep deprivation and the postpartum night sweats. As a new mom, without any other friends that were having baby's yet, I felt too embarrassed to even ask my friends and doctor about what I was going through. But please hear this, you may feel like you're the only person in the world who feels depressed and anxious during pregnancy or after your baby is born, but you are not alone. We are in this together with you. You do not have to struggle through this by yourself.


What are some symptoms of Depression?
  • Sadness, anger, exhaustion, nervousness, feeling out of control or overwhelmed

  • Difficulty sleeping or eating

  • Fears or scary thoughts that don’t go away

  • Feeling anxious or insecure, and nervous about being alone

What should I do if I think I have Pregnancy or Postpartum Depression or Anxiety?
  • Call your healthcare provider

  • Contact Postpartum Support International for support, information, and resources

  • Ask friends or family for help so you can take breaks

  • Tell someone how you feel and find someone you trust that can help you

Postpartum anxiety and depression can often go hand in hand



Symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:

  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., fidgety)

  • Worry that does not go away with reassurance

  • Scary thoughts of harm coming to one’s baby

  • Feeling guilty much of the time

  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions

  • Difficulty sleeping/insomnia

  • Panic attacks possible

AM I AT RISK?

Check the statements that are true for you:

  • It’s hard for me to ask for help. I usually take care of myself.

  • Before my periods, I usually get sad, angry, or very cranky.

  • History of depression or anxiety or mental health disorder

  • Family history of depression or anxiety

  • Sometimes I don’t need sleep, have lots of ideas, and it’s hard to slow down.

  • My family is far away and I feel lonely.

  • I don’t have many friends nearby that I can rely on.

  • I am pregnant right now and I don’t feel happy about it.

  • I don’t have the money, food, or housing that I need.

  • History of trauma or abuse

  • Past or current alcohol or substance abuse

  • Fertility challenges

  • Multiples

  • Unplanned pregnancy

Remember, depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy or after the birth of your baby are not things you cause and NOT YOUR FAULT—they are medical conditions that require medical care.


What will help me feel better?

  • Rest

  • Talk to a healthcare provider about options for medicine and other treatments

  • Fresh air and movement

  • Connection. ​Look for a moms' group in your community or online. These groups may give you the chance to learn from others who are going through or have gone through the same thing and to share your own feelings

  • Consume reliable information about getting through depression and anxiety

  • Good nutrition: avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Have plenty of water and protein.

  • Give yourself permission to set boundaries and say no.

  • Do something that you enjoy.

If your symptoms are impacting your daily life, or last over two weeks, call your health provider or contact Postpartum Support International for local resources at 1-800-944-4PPD (1-800-944-4773). OR even if you are unsure if how you are feeling indicates additional support, it’s ok to reach out for help.


If you feel that you need immediate care, call 1-800-SUICIDE or your local hospital.





The Mama Co-Op offers several community support groups for parents, workshops and sleep consultations. And please remember that we are in this together. Help is out there. For additional support and resources, visit us at The Mama Co-Op.




Source:

National Institute for Child Health and Development (2022). Moms' mental health matters. National Institute for Child Health and Development. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/ncmhep/initiatives/moms-mental-health-matters/moms






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