In recent media, we’ve been hearing more about women who suffer from postpartum disorders– which is good. It raises public awareness that this is a REAL illness which requires treatment. It is estimated that at least 80% of women experience Baby Blues, and at least 10% of women suffer from some type of postpartum disorder.
Families worry about being able to distinguish the difference- how do we know when to seek help? When should we be concerned?
Baby Blues is a very normal part of the transition to motherhood. (Even dads can get it!) These are normal feelings of occasional sadness, occasionally feeling overwhelmed, having doubts about being a “good enough” parent. It occurs usually for 1-3 weeks after a baby is born. Many moms feel exhausted due to sleep deprivation, overwhelmed with the responsibility of a newborn baby, and may have mixed emotions about parenthood. In most cases, these feelings will diminish over time as moms get more sleep, and become more comfortable with their new role and responsibilities. Many times just getting more help around the house, a little support, is all a mom needs to work through it.
Postpartum disorders, on the other hand, are more serious conditions which may require medical intervention. There are many types of postpartum disorders, but in general here are possible symptoms:
Feeling anxious, depressed, sad or hopeless
Inability to sleep (when you can), or excessive sleeping
Lack of appetite or excessive “comfort” eating
Worrying about baby or being a “good mom”
Not wanting to take care of yourself or baby
Feeling panicky, worrying about things you “know” you shouldn’t
Feeling alone, isolated
Not wanting to be alone, worried that something “bad” will happen
Uncontrollable thoughts of hurting self or baby– SEEK HELP RIGHT AWAY!
Most moms will report they don’t feel “right”– they know something is wrong. They may not be able to put their fingers on it, but they know they need help. If you or your family recognizes any of these symptoms, start with a call to your doctor or midwife. You can talk about treatment options and find what’s going to work best for you.
Possible Treatment Options:
Extra Help and Support— friends, family, postpartum doulas can offer help and support
around the house, and relieve you of feeling overwhelmed and isolated.
Exercise and Nutrition— 30 minutes of exercise daily raises endorphin levels which really
help moms feel better! Eat well, some vitamins or supplements can also help.
Individual or Group Counseling/Therapy— There are mental health professionals who
specialize in postpartum issues, and offer local support groups for moms.
Medication— sleep aids and/or antidepressants sometimes are really needed. They can help
a mom get back “on track” while she works on all the other stuff. Only your doctor will
know what might work for you. Many are perfectly safe to take with breastfeeding!
The bottom line– don’t be hesitant to get help. If you had an infection, you wouldn’t think twice about going to the doctor, right? Same with mental illness– it needs help, it’s not your “fault”, or “all in your head.” You’ll be a better mom if you take care of yourself first.
Postpartum Support International: 1-800-944-4PPD (24/7 hotline) www.postpartum.net
Online Support, Blog and local resources: www.postpartumprogress.com
Any Baby Can Austin– local “warmline” (answered M-F 8-5) 512-334-4444
Any Baby Can hosts a weekly postpartum support group which is free!