Did you know that up to 80% of women experience what are called the “baby blues” in the weeks following pregnancy?
Feeling a little down, having difficulty sleeping, and even crying for seemingly no reason are all normal parts of the immediate postpartum period. As a result, these feelings are often labeled as the baby blues. Your hormones are readjusting, and you’re settling into your new life with your brand new baby. How do you know when it’s something to take seriously? How do you know it’s time to seek help?
The “baby blues” may become a postpartum mood disorder when you experience some or all of the following symptoms. These symptoms persist beyond the initial 2-3 weeks after your baby’s birth:
- Depressed mood (tearful, weepy, hopeless, overwhelmed, etc.)
- Anxiety (obsessive thoughts, checking, worrying, panicking, etc.)
- The incidence of postpartum anxiety can be more common than postpartum depression.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety post birth, be sure to discuss these feelings with your care provider.
- Fatigue (extreme exhaustion)
- Insomnia (inability to sleep, waking often, hypervigilance, etc.)
- Change in appetite (usually a drop, but sometimes the opposite)
- numb, or losing interest in pleasurable activities
- worthlessness, or guilt
- loneliness, or that nobody understands
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Thoughts of harming yourself or someone else
- Fearful thoughts of hurting your baby (intentionally or accidentally)
If you think you may be struggling with postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a traumatic birth experience, there are specific resources for that as well. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re wanting or needing those resources.
Often you may not even realize that you are experiencing these symptoms. It may be helpful to have a partner, friend or loved one offer an objective perspective if you suspect that you may be struggling. Postpartum mood disorders are relatively common, and nothing to be ashamed of. There are many options for help, and one place to start is with a qualified care provider.
However, many women are also able to find healing with simply talking to someone – a spouse, friend, counselor, pastor, or other moms in a support group. When medication is required until your hormones sort themselves out, many are safe, even when you are breastfeeding.
Above all, be gentle with yourself! The transition from pregnancy into motherhood (whether it’s the first or tenth time) can be challenging for anyone. You are not alone, and there is help!
If you are local to Tucson, we have a great list of resources available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are happy to help you get connected.