If you just had a baby, or you are planning to have a baby, it is important to understand the signs of postpartum depression and the baby blues. Keep an eye out for feeling:
- Sad, hopeless or empty
- Crying more than usual with no reason
- Overly anxious
- Doubt in your ability to care for your baby
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
Having a baby is SO stressful. Not only are you sleep-deprived, but you are taking on a ton of new responsibilities while you lack time for your own needs. Post-delivery, some moms have symptoms of the baby blues. The baby blues are often caused by a change in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) post-delivery resulting in feeling overwhelmed, emotionally fragile and sometimes tearful. Unlike postpartum depression, the baby blues tend to peak a week after pregnancy and tapers off as the second week comes around. If these feelings tend to progress or get worse, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
It is important to understand the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression; the baby blues may lessen over time, whereas the severity of postpartum should not be ignored. Some similarities in symptomology include mood swings, sadness, symptoms of insomnia and irritability. Within postpartum depression, these symptoms tend to be more severe and often include suicidal thoughts, and thoughts that you cannot take care of your child. If you have overwhelming anxiety that impacts your ability to sleep, even when your baby is sleeping and eating appropriately, that is another sign to look out for. Other symptoms include: withdrawing from your partner and feeling as though you are unable to bond with your baby. Please know that you are not alone! These natural responses seem scary, daunting, and exhausting- with the proper care, these symptoms can go away, leaving you with more time to focus on you and your baby!
If you are reading this and feel as though you might be suffering from postpartum, you can take this quick assessment. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a 10-question assessment that is NOT a diagnosis, but can help you identify if you need to seek more care. Postpartum depression should not be ignored. If you score higher than a 13, please reach out to our intake specialist who can help match you with a therapist here at Symmetry, or reach out to your doctor who can provide you with resources.
Tips to Cope with PPD:
Many new mothers tend to find themselves alone, exhausted, and wanting adult interaction. It is important to maintain social interactions to reduce stress, and even more important to take time for yourself and take care of your basic needs.
- Focus on/maintain your relationships. It is crucial to stay connected to family and friends when we are feeling depressed. Even though we might want to be alone, it is important to push through this loneliness and let our loved ones know that we need them. How do you like being supported? Being alone will make you feel a lot worse so reach out and clue them in to what you need! Make your partner(s) a priority- make time for the two(+) of you without your baby as a way to be open, honest and reconnect. Setting aside time to plan a date might not be in the budget or the schedule so set aside at least 10-20 minutes of together time with no technology/distractions.
- Share your feelings. Use your family and friends as an emotional outlet- find someone who will listen without judgment and offer you support.
- Reach out to other new mothers. You are not alone! If your best friend is not a new mother, try reaching out to some other new mothers in your neighborhood. This shared experience will open up your eyes to other maternal insecurities, feelings, and worries associated with their children that you might share. This will help normalize this new experience for you! If you are having a hard time finding new moms in your neighborhood or at work, ask your pediatrician for resources.
- Prioritize sleeping and eating. With a newborn baby, it might sound unrealistic to get 8 hours of sleep and 3 meals a day. Do what you can to make sure you get your nutrition intake for the day and rest as much as you can! Maybe this means asking your partner to be on baby duty while you take a nap.
Tips if Your Partner has PPD:
- Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Be willing to listen and support her without judgment and criticism. Practice validating her and offering solutions after she feels heard and supported.
- Be patient. Your partner might be slower to get up in the morning, to help with meal prep, and might not be interested in having sex. Depression affects sex drive, interests, and motivation so be patient and try not to push her.
- Go on walks together. Not only does exercise help depression but this collaborative and social activity will be a mood booster. Motivation to exercise can be tricky so incorporate this family walk into the daily routine. Plus, sunshine helps your mood so if it is not too cold out, go for at least a 10-20 minute walk a day!
- Encourage your partner to take time for herself. Suggest to your partner that she should take a break to eat, nap, take a bath, or just put her feet up on the couch. It is important for your partner to identify herself outside of her motherly duties- maybe this means scheduling her a massage, a pedicure, or evening night out with the girlfriends.