One thing many women worry about besides their postpartum weight loss is postpartum depression. How do you know if you have postpartum depression or something like it? What are the postpartum symptoms?
Well, around 13% of women have depression for the first couple weeks after child birth and may experience a variety of feelings like restlessness, moodiness, being anxious and overwhelmed, crying, no energy or motivation, eating and sleeping too much or too little, trouble focusing and remembering, feeling worthless, withdrawing, and headaches or stomach aches. Theses symptoms are very common and may not last long. People refer to this as the “baby blues”. But if they do last more than 2 weeks and have other symptoms added to them like thoughts of hurting yourself or baby, or just having no interest in your new baby it could be postpartum depression.
What causes this depression and what can help? Other than the overwhelming amount of changes you body is going through chemically, emotionally and physically, contributing factors can be a family or personal history with depression, a lack of support from family and friends, anxiety from a previous birth or pregnancy, marital problems, lack of intimacy, money issues, or stressful events.
Dealing with the effects of birth can also contribute such as pain and exhaustion from delivery and late nights, having a new baby, changes in your abilities and appearance, a lack of free time and personal space, having a baby with health problems or who cries a lot, and having unrealistic expectations. Having a toddler or older sibling to add to the adjustments can make things stressful as well. Since you are practically tied down for the first few days or weeks all you can notice is the messes that surround you and the meals that are not according to your usual standard and you feel like you are going to burst if you are not able to get up and do something about it. But do not be afraid to ask for help. Also be patient and try to enjoy that precious bonding time with your new baby because you will be well and back to your normal chaotic life in no time.
Things that can help are resting when your baby sleeps, asking for help and advice from family or other moms, talking about your feelings and trying not to be too perfect. Make time for yourself and for your partner, even if it is just a small amount it will help. Try to avoid major changes too close to the end of your pregnancy or after birth as this will add unnecessary stress. If needed your doctor can prescribe a medication to help as well.
There is another form of postpartum called postpartum psychosis that requires immediate medical attention and is when you have many of the other symptoms plus feeling confused, have rapid mood swings, visions of things that are not there, and try to hurt yourself or your baby.
If postpartum symptoms are left untreated it can lead to poor health in yourself and baby, use of harmful substances, excess crying, learning delays, and behavior problems in the baby. It can also affect the bonding process.
Having children is made out to be an everyday occurrence, which it is, but for every woman it is very different. Some have a great pregnancy, delivery, and get back in to there old skinny jeans and routines in days but others deal with pregnancy symptoms, traumatic deliveries, health problems in their new baby, and postpartum. So whether you have postpartum or something like it keep your head up, get help, and find enjoyment in your beautiful, new infant.