After having a baby, your body is riddled with pregnancy and labor-related hormones. It takes a while for your hormone levels to settle back to normal. These hormones can often upset your emotional balance. While most moms experience some form of weepiness and sadness in the week or two following childbirth, up to 15% of moms experience postpartum depression.
Baby blues is a very mild form of postpartum depression. It is a general sadness for a few days or weeks after the birth of your child. This usually goes away on its own and you are back to feeling normal again. It can also be aggravated by interrupted sleeping patterns that new moms experience. Having a good support system, and resting when you can help these baby blues disappear. Welcoming a new baby is a big event and change in your life, it takes some getting used to.
Full postpartum depression doesn’t go away on its own. It is a continuous sadness and worry that stays with the mom. It interferes in the way she cares for her baby and it often causes a complete change in behavior. Moms with postpartum depression have absolutely no control over their feelings, and their postpartum depression is not caused by anything they have done at all. Immense feelings of guilt are very common with postpartum depression, and these can be made worse with feeling even guiltier for having postpartum depression. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be professionally treated. There are numerous symptoms and signs of postpartum depression, and it is important to know yourself well enough to pick up if your behavior has changed.
Accepting these emotional and physical symptoms and seeking help is the only way towards healing.
These are the most common symptoms of postpartum depression:
Behavioural: Increase in crying, irritability and/or restlessness.
Mood: Anger, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness, loss of pleasure in activities, loss of interest in the baby, mood swings and sometimes panic attacks.
Physical: Weight gain or weight loss.
Cognitive: Lack of concentration.
Body: Fatigue or loss of appetite.
Psychological: Depression, fear, or repeated anxious thoughts.
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If you display any of these symptoms, you need to seek help. It might be hard to speak to someone close to you about your feelings as many moms feel as though they have failed at motherhood already. Remembering and accepting that postpartum depression is a natural occurrence that is completely out of your control will help you on the road to recovery.
Specialists have recently spent more time and resources researching postpartum depression. They have added different levels to the condition depending on symptoms and severity.
Baby blues sit at the bottom of the scale, this usually disappears without any treatment. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis sit higher up on the scale. These both need medical intervention and moms benefit significantly from seeking professional help. Postpartum anxiety, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, and postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder have also been added to the postpartum depression scale. These are also serious conditions that need professional help.
There is no shame in admitting that you need help. Going through childbirth and caring for a new baby is incredibly difficult. Many moms are not given the support they need and find themselves spiraling downwards. Your support system and the amount of rest you get will all play a big role in your emotional and physical recovery. Finding a support group often helps take the edge off, and speaking to other moms who have experienced the same thing can be a saving grace for some.
Always be confident in yourself to seek the help you need, it doesn’t show weakness. Standing up and asking for help shows that you are wanting the best for both you and your baby. You need to be okay, both physically and emotionally, before you can look after another little human. Reach out to those closest to you and don’t for one second feel ashamed of how you feel. We look to teach our children to be in tune with their emotions and mental well being, so we need to do the same ourselves.
Stay strong and remember that you have a new little baby who loves you unconditionally.