02 Jan Postpartum Depression- The In’s and The Out’s
For lots of women, the fantasy of having a baby is nothing short of blissful. The amazing women who walk through my door often tell a similar story. Like out of a Hollywood movie they imagined that when the doctor placed their new beautiful baby into their arms they would magically transform into supermom. Breastfeeding would be no problem because other moms made it look so easy. The lack of sleep, although annoying, would be just fine because there would be plenty of moments during the day for napping. They expected to be overcome with feelings of joy and elation and never miss their previous life because seeing their baby would only make them excited for the future. But for all you mothers out there, you already know that often this fantasy couldn’t be any more further from reality.
Having a new baby is hard! Sleepless nights, diapers, feeding and of course the never ending crying. And this is after the 9 months of growing a new life inside of you. Before you can even recover from the past 9 months, you are thrown into this crazy new role of parenting. No wonder we all look so exhausted! It is an emotional and physical roller coaster with many highs and lows.
But what if you start to notice that your lows outnumber your highs? If this is the case, it’s time to start asking some hard questions like “does it feel like I’m drowning with no life preserver in sight?” or “am I feeling that something isn’t right?” If the answer is yes then you may be at risk or are already struggling with postpartum depression (PPD). And you wouldn’t be alone! Approximately 10-15% of mothers are affected by postpartum depression (WHO).
Sometimes mistaken for the baby blues, the signs and symptoms of PPD are more intense and last longer eventually interfering with a mother’s ability to care for their baby and handle other daily tasks. These symptoms typically develop within the first few weeks after giving birth but may begin later. Either way, it can create a very lonely, isolating and painful experience.
So how do you know whether you are struggling with postpartum depression? Here are some signs and symptoms to be aware of:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel that you may be at risk, I need you to be really courageous and ask for help. I believe in no shame parenting. We all need to ask for help especially when we feel as if we are drowning. Please let your healthcare providers (OB, midwife, family doctor, social worker) know that you are struggling. The good news is that asking for help is the first step towards freeing yourself from the grip of postpartum depression. You deserve to be a happy mama!
***If you are noticing that you are experiencing thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby you need to call 911 or get yourself to the hospital as soon as possible. This has now become an emergency and you require immediate medical attention.
Connect with Lindsay our incredible social worker!