Feelings of Depression Soon After Childbirth Are Common…
Most mothers (60%-80%) experience some emotional sensitivity, also known as “the baby blues” in the first week after childbirth. These feelings usually spontaneously subside within 24 – 72 hours with the majority of new mothers. When they don’t subside, both mothers and babies can suffer substantially.
How can you tell if what you are experiencing is normal, or if you have postpartum depression (PPD)?
If you experience depression that does not go away within 2 weeks after your baby’s birth, you may have postpartum depression. You may feel:
ð tired but unable to asleep
ð sad and weepy irritable and moody
ð “detached” emotionally from your baby
ð guilty or inadequate worried about your baby
ð have uncontrollable thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
Worst of all, you may feel alone and guilty about your thoughts and feelings.
If you feel any of these symptoms, it’s is not your fault!
Early identification and psychological treatment of maternal depression is important for both you, as a mother, and your baby.
In postpartum depression both mothers and infants suffer. PPD can affect your ability to function and take care of yourself and your baby.
The following suggestions may help you cope with PPD:
- 1. Get Uninterrupted Sleep
Ask your partner or family members to take over night feedings so that you can get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Exhaustion from taking care of your baby, coupled with sleepless nights, will bring on depression and anxiety.
- 2. Ask for Help
You do not have to be a “supermom”. Find help with childcare and household chores. If possible, hire a nanny and ask your partner, friends, or family to help you. You may have to let go of some of your control and rely on other people to assist you. Being a good mom is knowing when to ask for help.
- 3. Take Care of Yourself
Eat healthy and do not skip meals. Try to exercise, or at least go outside for walks with your baby.
Say no to others when you need to take care of yourself.
- 4. Stop Being Critical of Yourself:
Do not expect overnight miracles. It takes time to physically and mentally adjust to a baby. It may take a while to lose the baby weight and feel good about yourself again. It’s fine to not fit into your jeans and to not have gotten around to sending birth announcements when your baby is still young.
- 5. Acknowledge Your Feelings
Sometimes partners and even healthcare professionals do not take new mothers’ concerns seriously. They may brush your concerns off simply thinking you are still adjusting to motherhood. Do not let people minimize your feelings. Allow yourself to feel overwhelmed. The constant attention that newborns require is extremely hard work and nobody should go through that alone. Find someone you trust and let him/her know how you feel.
- 6. Gather Support From Other Moms
Reach-out to other mothers. Join a new mothers support group or a mother-baby playgroup. You may be surprised at how many women are experiencing similar feelings.
- 7. Seek Professional Help
Counseling can successfully reduce depression and anxiety during pregnancy and afterwards. It is often a treatment of choice due to concerns over taking antidepressants while breastfeeding.
Many women have experienced and overcome postpartum depression and so can you. You can be a good mother even if you do not feel like you are one right now.
While your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medication, a psychologist with expertise in the area of postpartum depression can help you boost your confidence as a mother, and bring a sense joy to the time you spend with your baby.
If you are having difficulty coping with postpartum depression, anxiety, or general depression ,you do not have to struggle alone. If you could use the help of a therapist, please call me at (281) 267-1742 for a FREE ten-minute phone consultation or email me at Irena@permalink.com.
Dr. Irena Milentijevic is a licensed psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping moms and mom wannabes. Her focuses are pregnancy-related issues, pregnancy loss, depression, post-partum depression, and parenting of young children. Her number one priority is to help women feel better about themselves and feel empowered about their choices. Dr.Irena’s offices are located in the Woodlands and in the Houston Medical Center.