What Is It And
How To Manage It?
What Is It And
How To Manage It?
Many moms experience postpartum depression. Over nine months, your body goes through incredible changes, eventually culminating in the birth of your baby. And while you may have read numerous books and attended Lamaze classes, nothing can quite prepare you for becoming a mom.
You’re learning on the job, and you’re physically exhausted. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows, from sheer excitement and happiness to confusion, anxiety, and weepiness. We call this the baby blues, and it’s pretty normal. 70% of new moms experience the baby blues two or three days after birth. But usually, within two weeks, it goes away.
Now and then, the baby blues become postpartum depression. And it can occur as a result of a difficult pregnancy or birth. Perhaps you had an emergency caesarean, or you were in labour for many hours, or your baby was born via forceps. This can affect your ability to bond with your baby and contribute to postpartum depression.
You don’t need to be ashamed or feel like a bad mother. You need to take care of yourself because your baby needs you. So we’re going to help you identify the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and what to do if you think you are depressed. Let’s dive in.
Read the full article or Use the quick links to jump ahead
- What is postpartum depression?
- What are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?
- What causes postpartum depression?
- Treating postpartum depression
- What happens if postpartum depression is left untreated?
- How to prevent postpartum depression
- Do you need help?
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression happens within the first four weeks of giving birth. Some new mothers experience sadness and a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. Feeling these emotions for a few days after the arrival of your new baby is not unusual. But if they linger for more than two weeks, you may have postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is an extreme mood disorder or chemical imbalance that leads to emotional, physical, and behavioural changes in new moms. During pregnancy, your body is pumped full of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone to aid in the development of your little one.
But once your baby arrives, those hormones are essentially cut off, returning to levels pre-pregnancy. While there is no conclusive evidence, we believe that this rapid drop in hormones can be linked to postpartum depression.
Roughly one in ten new moms who struggle with the baby blues develop postpartum depression. And the dads aren’t immune.
The arrival of a new baby changes the family dynamic. It’s an adjustment for men. Accepting that they’re no longer their wife or partners main priority takes time. And this can lead to depression.
If you’re worried or struggling to adjust to having a new baby, speak to your doctor. Or book an appointment with a Welwitschia doctor.
What are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?
The following symptoms are indicative of the baby blues:
- Sleeping more than usual
- Loss of appetite
- Low libido
However, they can morph into postpartum depression. You might experience:
- Crying all the time
- Difficulty getting out of bed
- Anger and crankiness towards loved ones
- Not wanting to hold or interact with your baby
- Difficulty making simple decisions like what to wear
- Wanting to hurt yourself or your baby
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling hopeless and worthless
- Frequently experiencing anxiety and panic attacks during the day
If you experience any of these emotions or thoughts for more than a few days, please seek medical help. It’s not you. It results from hormonal and lifestyle changes, and it’s completely treatable. With the proper medical care, you can be feeling more like yourself within days.
What causes postpartum depression?
We can’t say for sure what causes postpartum depression (PPD), but there are similarities between women who have been diagnosed with PPD.
- A history of depression either in childhood or as an adult
- Your age, young women are more inclined to experience PPD
- An unhappy or volatile marriage
- Having a special needs child or one with chronic health issues
- The birth of twins or triplets
- A difficult birth
- Experiencing an extremely stressful event like a job loss or the passing of a loved one
- A lack of support (friends or family)
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor body image. Your body goes through massive changes. After birth, you’ll still be carrying upwards of 10 kilograms. You’ll have loose around your middle area, affecting your body image.
This, combined with the dramatic change in hormone levels in your body, can contribute to feeling anxious about whether or not you’re capable of looking after a baby. Coupled with a needy newborn can leave you feeling out of control, unsure and unhappy.
Treating postpartum depression
We treat PPD with a combination of antidepressants, counselling sessions, and emotional support groups. Sharing your experiences with other new moms and hearing their stories can help the healing process.
Speak to your doctor about using antidepressants while breastfeeding. They will advise the best way forward. But know that many women take medication while breastfeeding under a doctor’s careful watch.
What happens if postpartum depression is left untreated?
If left untreated, postpartum depression can impact your ability to parent and the mother-child bonding process.
You’re simply too tired and emotional to handle your baby’s needs, which makes identifying your baby’s cries difficult. Usually, a mother would know if her baby was crying for food, to be held, or to change a wet nappy, but with postpartum depression, everything is overwhelming. Even deciding what baby grow to dress your little one feels like an impossible choice.
Unsurprisingly, the babies of mothers with postpartum depression tend to cry and fuzz more because they pick up on their mother’s distress. As a result, many have delayed speech, struggle with handling stressful situations and adjusting to school.
Please know that you’re not a bad mother. Exhaustion combined with a cocktail of hormones is wreaking havoc on your body. But the right medication can help, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. In extreme cases, some mothers have been known to hurt their babies or take their own lives, so it’s vital that you contact your doctor if you suspect that you may be depressed.
Talk to us. We’re here to help you get through this challenging time. Book an appointment here.
How to prevent postpartum depression
Often women who suffer from postpartum depression have a history of depression. If you’ve ever been depressed, speak to your doctor before you start trying for a baby or as soon as you learn you’re pregnant.
If this is your first child, your doctor will monitor you throughout your pregnancy to check for signs and symptoms of depression. They may recommend you try counselling, support groups or therapy. Sharing with women who have been through similar difficulties can help you feel less alone.
If necessary, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants.
Ask for help. In the first days of coming home with a newborn, ask friends and family to help with cooking meals and taking the baby for a little while you sleep. Don’t isolate yourself.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, arrange a night nurse to give you an evening off. Also, consider reaching out to your midwife or doula to ask questions about how to bathe your baby or breastfeed.
Rest when your baby sleeps. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid alcohol. Try to get out and take a walk. Don’t do strenuous exercise. But a little walking can do wonders for your soul.
Try to make time for your partner. They still need you to lean on them. Just know that this will pass. Many women have experienced and overcome postpartum depression, and you can too.
Do you need help?
If you’re constantly tired and sad. If you’re struggling to bond with your new baby or make simple decisions like getting out of bed or getting dressed, speak to your doctor. Having a baby is a miracle, but it does change your life. You don’t have to do it alone.
If you need help, contact one of our GP’s here. We’re here to guide and take care of you.
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