Post-partum depression is extremely common for many new mothers. However, there is help available so you don’t have to suffer in silence. Knowing what the warning signs are, and what you should to do, if they happen, could make all the difference.
There are a few self-help techniques you can try that can help you at home, but there is also professional help and support you can source to get you through this stage of recovery and back on track to enjoy your life with your new baby.
Let’s take a closer look at some post-partum issues that a new mother may experience and how to positively manage these symptoms to get them resolved as quickly as possible.
What is post-partum depression?
Post-partum depression is an umbrella term for many of the mood disorders a new mother can experience. These mood disorders include baby blues, post-partum anxiety (PPA), post-partum obsessive-compulsive disorder (PPOCD) and post-partum post-traumatic stress disorder (PPTSD).
Do not hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of these post-partum mood disorders. Your doctor or health provider can suggest the best course of action to take. Stay in touch with your health professionals after the birth of your baby.
Up to 80 percent of new mothers complain of suffering with baby blues symptoms after they deliver. You may be feeling the baby blues if you are experiencing any of the following:
Changes in eating and sleeping routines
Unexpectedly crying or becoming over emotional
These feelings can sometimes come on suddenly and can be quite alarming, but in most cases baby blues only lasts about a week or two while your hormones begin to settle back down to normal. With good support and plenty of rest, the symptoms should go away. However, if they linger or seem to intensify, then seek help from your healthcare provider for more professional help. Having the right support in place will help you to manage these symptoms better.
Post-partum depression is less common in new mothers than the baby blues, but it can be quite devastating. You may feel overly sad or have a high level of anxiety that interferes with or prevents you from following your normal routine. When symptoms begin to affect your ability to care for yourself and your baby, then it is time to seek out professional help from your healthcare provider.
Symptoms of post-partum depression usually include:
Feeling guilty or worthless
Feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and sad
No interest in your baby
Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
Unable to Eat
Unable to enjoy things you once enjoyed
These symptoms can range in severity, and usually do not go away very easily on their own. Don’t be afraid to approach your doctor. They are trained to help and may suggest treatment in the form of medication or therapy. Post-partum depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Reaching out and knowing that you are not alone can be of great comfort during this time. A good support or therapy group can often lead to making new life-long friends – it really does help to have a support network of other mothers who have been through the same experiences. You don’t need to tackle this alone!
Post-partum Psychosis (PPP)
Post-partum psychosis (PPP) is an extreme form of post-partum depression. It can be an overwhelming condition that scares you and your partner and other loved ones because it can cause a change in your personality. However, it is extremely rare to develop this with only 1-2 out of 1000 pregnancies that are affected. Again, symptoms can develop quickly and become quite severe, usually within 2-3 weeks after giving birth.
Look out for these symptoms that might mean you have developed PPP:
Experiencing thoughts of killing oneself or the baby
Extreme mood swings
Hallucinations and/or delusions
Post-partum psychosis is extremely rare, but if you suspect that you are suffering, you need to have your symptoms addressed by a doctor. You may even need to be treated as a medical emergency to keep yourself and your baby safe. If your moods and actions are scaring you, then reach out for help as soon as possible. There is specialist help available to you that will help you get better fast.
Post-partum Anxiety (PPA)
Post-partum anxiety affects only about 10% of new mothers. Feeling some level of anxiety after delivery can be quite normal as a new parent. It can take some time for you to settle into your new routine with your baby, but watch out for these symptoms, especially if they are prolonged or start to build in intensity:
Changes with eating and sleeping
Uncontrolled, racing thoughts
Worrying all the time
Fear of bad things happening
Unable to sit still and focus
Physical panic symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Treatment for post-partum anxiety is necessary for it to go away completely. Treatment may include therapy sessions and/or a short course of anti-anxiety medication. Reach out to your healthcare provider should you be worried that you are developing these symptoms. They are there to help.
Post-partum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)
This is a particularly rate mood disorder that affects only around 3-5% of new mothers. It is only natural that a new mother is going to be extra-careful about keeping their new baby safe from harm. However, when keeping baby safe develops into an obsession, then it is time to take a closer look for other obsessive habits that you have been developing. These new habits may include counting things, putting things in specific order, listing items, checking and rechecking actions already performed such as switching off lights or locking doors, and cleaning repeatedly – even when rooms and surfaces are already clean.
If you recognise that you are experiencing these symptoms and can understand that these are not normal things to do, but you cannot stop performing them, then it is time to call your doctor. Specialist help is on offer here and you may be prescribed medication to help control your symptoms, be offered therapy, or a combination of both. It is important that you closest family are made aware of your condition and they can then offer you more help and support. It helps to know that you are not alone and that you have close family and friends that you can turn to for help to overcome these obsessions and help you get back to enjoying your new baby and family life.
Post-partum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPTSD)
Post-partum post-traumatic stress disorder (PPTSD) is another rare disorder affecting new mothers. These symptoms are usually directly related to your actual birthing experience, especially if it was a particularly traumatic birth. About 1-6% of new mothers are affected and causes can include:
Emergency birth complications
Operative vaginal delivery (forceps or vacuum)
Lack of support and communication
Lack of control during delivery
Also, after giving birth some new mothers can experience other symptoms including:
Nightmares and flashbacks to the birth or trauma
In these cases it is imperative that you reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider. You will greatly benefit from their help and may be offered specialist trauma therapy to help you deal with your experiences and work through your issues.
If you feel like you are suffering from any of the above post-partum symptoms, it can be a great idea to share this article with your partner, family members and close friends. Some of the symptoms may be easier for them to spot from the outside looking in. In particular, your friends and family may recognise the symptoms of a serious mental health issue, such as postnatal depression, before you do and can step in to get you the help you need.
Never ignore any post-partum symptoms, no matter how minor you think they are. There is help available, even if it is as simple as reaching out to close family and friends who may have also experienced these symptoms. The support of your family and friends as well as from professional medical sources can quickly help you to resolve your issues – don’t be afraid to reach out!
About the author:
Janine is an RN who has worked in labor and delivery since 2006. She is also a freelance writer using her ‘nurse’ brain in a different way. Janine continues to write and inspire and educate other women and men on how to grow their skills and business. She Janine is a wife, a mother and a contributor to www.kachytv.com/blog. You can find more of her writing at: www.writern.net