Are you experiencing postpartum depression after the birth of your baby?
In addition to all the physical changes, some moms experience postpartum depression once they’ve returned home after giving birth. You can feel strong emotions, which can often generate mixed feelings. Happiness intertwined with fear and doubt and sometimes sadness. It doesn’t matter whether you're becoming a mom for the first time or the third time, the days and weeks after giving birth can be as happy as they are overwhelming.
Studies have shown that about one in seven women will experience something more extreme than the usual mixed emotions post birth that generally last between one to two weeks. If you struggle with sadness, anxiety or worry for several weeks or more, you may have postpartum depression (PPD). PPD can be ongoing and severely affect your ability to go about your day to day life. It can start shortly before birth or any time up to 12 months after birth.
According to the American Psychiatric Association the main symptoms of PPD are as follows:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Weight loss or decreased appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feelings of restlessness
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
- Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
But why do these symptoms happen after giving birth?
These changes in your mood are thought to be a natural effect of the hormone swings that happen with pregnancy and childbirth. Your estrogen and progesterone levels rose during pregnancy and then once you get home these hormones decrease dramatically. Obviously, this will have an effect on your mood. Usually within a week or so, these hormones levels return to the normal level, pre-pregnancy.
Other factors that can affect your mood include emotional stressors, such as financial strain, job changes, illness, or the death of a loved one and changes in social relationships, or the lack of a strong support network.
If you have struggled with depression or anxiety in the past, it’s recommend to let your health care provider know so that you can take special precautions and possibly reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression.
What should you do?
Since you are probably dog-tired, sleep deprived and majorly stressed out with caring for your newborn; all of these things combined make feelings of depression and extreme sadness even worse. So, it’s important to get as much as rest as possible, eat regularly with nourishing healthy meals, find time to have light exercise, and surround yourself with a support system of friends and family.
Some moms suggest taking time for yourself. Ask a friend or a family member to babysit from time to time. Another mom suggested indulging in some simple pleasures, such as watching one of your favorite TV shows, listening to music you enjoy, or reading a book.
Your health care provider might recommend that you meet with a counselor on a regular basis. PPD typically goes away on its own as the time passes, but symptoms will lessen more and more with the help of therapy and speaking through what your feeling.
Adjusting to life as a mom can be very worrying as you learn to become your new role. Taking time to care for yourself, a baby, and maybe even other children and/or family members will be quite the balancing act. It will be challenging, draining and overwhelming; you could even feel guilty or ashamed. However, it is necessary to know that postpartum depression is in no way your fault. With the right treatment and support, it can be the freedom to feeling like yourself again. With those things on your side, you’ll be well on your way to seeing positive changes that will have a tremendous impact on your daily well-being.
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