By: Callie Rineer
Mood swings, sadness, insomnia, irritability. Combine these new mom emotions with engorged breasts and sleepless nights, and it’s enough to leave any mom struggling for a moment of pre-baby normalcy. But amongst all the highs and lows of being a new parent, how is a mom to know if what she is experiencing are typical “baby blues” or something more?
While the baby blues and postpartum depression have similar symptoms, baby blues tend to only last the first two weeks postpartum, and symptoms go away on their own. Postpartum depression develops anytime up to 12 months postpartum and tends to linger, and not go away on its own. While the baby blues can feel overwhelming and challenging, symptoms are often relieved once baby is soothed, and mom is rested and validated. Postpartum depression symptoms are more severe, often preventing you from functioning as you would like, and are not relieved with reassurance. Symptoms can often include suicidal thoughts, and inability to care for your newborn.
Living with postpartum depression is often like meeting another very strange version of yourself from a parallel universe. You might have appetite and sleep problems, and trouble concentrating and making decisions. If it’s not the irritability and anger that makes you wonder who you’ve become, maybe it’s the withdrawal from family or lack of interest in your baby. The first year after delivery comes with a high divorce rate among couples, and postpartum depression is an enabling factor. Many spouses become confused with the new behavior and question why their partner is no longer acting like the person they once knew.
However, it’s never to early or too late to seek help if you or your spouse might be questioning whether or not you could have postpartum depression. Up to 20% of new moms develop postpartum depression and suffer in silence without ever seeking help. If you feel overwhelmed majority of the time, or you or your partner notice you just aren’t yourself, don’t wait.
Many women might be embarrassed to seek help or even ask someone else if what they’re experience is normal. The good news is seeking help has become easier than ever in our modern times as postpartum depression is more widely known and researched than ever before. New moms can reach out to their OB/GYN who will discuss different treatment options. They may be able to prescribe medications on the spot or might refer you for treatment to a therapist that specializes in postpartum mood disorders, or a reproductive psychiatrist.
So whether you think you are coping with the 50 shades of postpartum emotions or not, don’t be afraid to seek out help if it does get too overwhelming or disrupts your life. And remember, to the moms struggling with postpartum depression, you are not alone!
Lancaster Doulas has resources for women who believe they may be suffering from postpartum mood disorders. Please contact us if you or someone you know needs help.