The birth of a child is a time of joy and excitement. For many new moms, it also can be a time of anxiety, stress and inexplicable sadness. Approximately 70% to 80% of new moms may feel depressed, anxious or even angry a few days after giving birth. However, these feelings usually go away within a week or so without treatment. Having anxiety or depression after giving birth certainly does not make you a “bad mom.”
Postpartum depression (PPD), however, is a serious condition that can develop in the weeks after birth, or even as late as six months or more post-labor. PPD usually requires medical care.
Signs of PPD include:
- Difficulty bonding with your newborn.
- Feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood.
- Withdrawing from your spouse, family members and friends.
- Guilt about your shortcomings as a mother, or feelings of shame and worthlessness.
- Loss of appetite or increased eating habits.
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Fatigue and loss of energy.
- Feeling numb or disconnected from the world around you.
- Inability to enjoy activities you used to love.
- Cloudy thoughts and an inability to concentrate.
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks.
- Mood swings.
- Feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- Fear that if you reach out for help, your baby will be taken away.
PPD does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do. While the cause is unknown, it likely results from a combination of physical and emotional factors. After childbirth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop, which leads to chemical changes in the brain that may trigger mood swings. Sleep deprivation or lack of rest also can lead to body pain and exhaustion, which can trigger PPD.
It’s important to know that PPD is temporary and treatable. There is no shame in PPD, so don’t be embarrassed to reach out for help, for the sake of you and your baby. Contact your OB-GYN if your symptoms last longer than two weeks, or become a barrier to living life normally. If you have thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself or your baby, seek immediate assistance or call 911.
– Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, PC has seven OB-GYNs and five advanced practice providers, with offices in Canton and Woodstock.