Postpartum: Support should not be a luxury
The birth of a new baby can trigger a wide variety of emotions—excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. One in seven women will experience a mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy or after she gives birth. These could include generalized anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis or PTSD. Postpartum mood disorders can stem from pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, or birth trauma.
Most new moms or women recovering from a miscarriage experience the “baby blues” which is generally associated with mild emotional changes such as:
Some changes in eating habits
Increased anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed
Sometimes the emotional changes are more severe which may result in postpartum depression (PPD). This is not a result of weak character. PPD is not abnormal. Symptoms may include:
Intense irritability and anger
Severe mood swings
Depressed mood most of the day almost every day
Trouble bonding with baby including a deep fear of not being a good mom
Feeling guilt, shame, and inadequacy
Isolating from family and friends
Changes in eating habits (increased/decreased appetite)
Changes in sleep patterns (increased/decreased sleep)
Loss of pleasure in activities you enjoy
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Often PPD may go unreported specifically due to the associated symptoms of feeling guilt, shame, not a good mom, worthlessness, and inadequacy. These negative self-perspectives are intensified if the mother is having thoughts of harming her baby. It is very important that if you are experiencing these symptoms that you contact a healthcare professional and share your thoughts and symptoms. As a healthcare professional, I want to encourage you that your thoughts of harming your baby are just thoughts. It’s ok. It’s not abnormal. You probably feel terrified because you know you would never really want to hurt your baby. You may feel as though having the thought is so close to completing the action. However, the thought itself does not put you one step away from fulfilling the action. It is only a warning sign. There are several steps between thought and action completion. You’re not a bad mom. You’re not flawed. More than likely you are fighting hormones and chemical imbalances due to childbirth. Talk to a professional or a safe person. Get the help that you need. Postpartum support shouldn’t be a luxury.
PPD is treatable. It is not your fault. There’s nothing you have done to deserve this. You are not alone.