After nine months of carrying your baby in your womb and giving birth, holding your new baby is the best feeling in the world. However, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. After childbirth, some mothers experience baby blues. Why does postpartum depression happen?
After giving birth, the woman’s body experiences a significant drop in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. Then there’s the stress and sleep deprivation from taking care of the new baby. In addition to that, there are physical changes like pregnancy weight gain and stretch marks that affect the self-esteem of new mothers.
Then other factors can lead to postpartum depression, such as a history of depression, physical and emotional issues, stressful life events, financial constraints, and lack of emotional support. These risk factors may lead to postpartum depression, especially in new moms.
When this happens, know that you can always ask for help and learn how to cope with postpartum depression. For moms-to-be and all the non-first-time mommies out there, please know that you are doing a great job. Take care of yourself and know that there are many ways to cope with postpartum depression.
You may have heard different terms like baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. Here’s what you need to know: all three are different. They have different signs and symptoms and differ in periods and duration, but they are somehow similar when it comes to ways on how you can cope with them.
Baby blues are pretty common in new moms and may happen hours after giving birth. You experience extreme mood swings, like one minute you’re feeling very happy, then the next minute you’re feeling very sad. Mothers who experience baby blues cry for no reason and feel lonely, anxious, restless, or irritable.
Baby blues can last for up to two weeks and don’t usually require health treatment. However, joining support groups with other mommies helps avoid postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.
Postpartum depression (PPD) may occur within the first few days to months after childbirth. It is categorized as a type of mood disorder that can occur to new moms and non-first-time mothers (women having their second, third, fourth child, and so on).
The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to those of postpartum blues. However, the symptoms last longer, affecting the mother’s everyday activities.
When the mother’s ability to care for the baby and function in daily activities get affected, it is best to consult with the primary health care provider (OB-GYN). Postpartum depression is a serious disease that needs a treatment plan, medication, and counseling with a mental health professional.
The worst type of mental health problem after childbirth is postpartum psychosis. This happens quickly, often within the first three months after giving birth.
In this mood disorder, the new mom can experience delusions, think about hurting themselves or other people around them, lose touch with reality, and have auditory and visual hallucinations. Women who experience postpartum psychosis should get immediate help because this is considered a medical emergency.
|Baby Blues||Postpartum Depression||Postpartum Psychosis|
|– May last up to 2 weeks – Mood changes – Feelings of anxiety – Feelings of sadness – Irritability – Crying for no reason – Reduced concentration – Appetite changes – Sleeping problem||– May last up to a year – Similar to baby blues – Inability to function well in tasks – Changes in sleeping and eating patterns – Unexplained emotions of sadness, irritability, anxiety, hopelessness – Withdrawal from partner – Suicidal thoughts||– May last for more than a year – Seeing or hearing things that are not there – Delusions – Agitation, extreme anxiety, bizarre behaviors, rapid mood swings, confusion, disorientation – Thoughts of harming oneself or hurting others|
How to Cope With Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression does not have a definite cause, but there are risk factors that can affect the development of these mood disorders after childbirth. Other moms are lucky not to experience baby blues or postpartum depression. For some who do, don’t worry, because there many ways to cope.
Bonding and attachment are important in the baby’s development. Bonding includes activities like cuddling, eye contact, smiling, reading, or singing to your baby. Bonding and attachment benefit not only the newborn but also the mother. One study shows that mothers who bond with their babies release endorphins (happy hormones), making them happy.
If you’re a first-time mom, ask for help from family and friends when taking care of your baby. Rather than doing everything on your own (house chores and taking care of the baby on top of your job), take a break and take time to take care of yourself.
One of the best ways to avoid postpartum depression is self-care, as this helps women have intact physical and mental well-being. Pamper yourself for an entire day if you need it.
If you need help with housework, communicate with your husband or ask for help from your best friend. Do not deprive yourself of getting that full 8 hours of sleep, even when it’s impossible at times when the baby awakes at dawn. Also, you can always take a nap at the same time your baby naps.
Squeeze some time for exercise time. Even just a 30-minute walk with your baby in the stroller in the morning helps a lot. You and your baby will get vitamin D, you release happy hormones from the activity, and you get to breathe fresh air. Practicing mindfulness meditation, yoga, or praying can also help you feel more energized and calmer.
Aside from self-care, take time to take care of your partner, too. Go out on dates if you can get a loved one to babysit, communicate with your husband, and avoid lashing out to your partner.
Not talking to someone and bottling up your feelings may worsen postpartum depression. Take care of your mental health, and do not keep all your feelings to yourself. Reach out to friends, family members, or your loved ones. Join a support group with other new moms to get insights on how to take care of your mental health.
If you can’t leave the house, you can always get help through telehealth counseling from Kentucky Counseling Center. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to, an emotional outlet, and a support system that can help you be the best mom.