Help for Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Bringing a new baby into the family can be challenging at the best of times, both physically and emotionally. It is natural for new parents to experience mood swings, feeling joyful one minute and depressed the next. These feelings are sometimes known as the “baby blues,” and often go away soon after birth. However, some parents may experience a deep and ongoing depression that lasts much longer. This is called postpartum depression.
Who is affected?
Postpartum depression can affect anyone. Although it’s more commonly reported by mothers, it can affect any new parents—both moms and dads—and it can affect parents who adopt
- 12% to 28% of women in the postpartum period
- 30-50% of women with a history of depression will develop postpartum depression
- 50-70% will have a recurrence of postpartum depression with their next pregnancy
- 10% of men will experience depression during the postnatal period.
Postpartum Blues or “Baby Blues”
The baby blues are SO COMMON that they are actually considered normal.
4 in 5 mothers will have postpartum blues.
This starts within a few days of delivery and may last up to three weeks. Mothers may experience tearfulness, sadness, moodiness, irritability, worrying.
You may feel that being a mom will always be like this. Don’t worry, things will get better, and quite quickly, too.
How do you feel? Are you or your partner suffering from any of the following since the birth of the baby?
If you're suffering from the Baby Blues, you may:
- Feel sad or low and weepiness or crying for no apparent reason
- Feel irritable or impatient
- Feel exhausted
- Feel overwhelmed
- Have changes in your sleeping or eating patterns (Insomnia- even when the baby is sleeping)
- Experience mood changes
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
PPD can start within four weeks and up to one year after birth. PPD is likely caused by many different factors that work together, including family history, biology, personality, life experiences, and the environment (especially sleep deprivation)
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of pleasure/lack of interest
- Low energy/persistent fatigue
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Poor concentration, poor decision making
- Sleep and appetite changes
- Intense anxiety or agitation
- Irritability, anger
- Feeling overwhelmed
- You may or may not have thoughts of harming self or baby, thinking “the world or your baby's life would be better without you in it.”
Early recognition and prompt treatment benefits the whole family.
Postpartum depression can be a very difficult experience. Becoming a new parent is hard enough—and the challenges added by depression can seem overwhelming. It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect pregnancy, perfect birth, perfect baby, or perfect parent. You are doing the best you can. And with care and support, you can recover and enjoy time with your family.
Many women will not be diagnosed or treated. Symptoms will be blamed on lack of sleep, hormones or demands of the new baby. Women often stay silent because they feel guilty.
What can you do to feel better?
- Be kind to yourself
- Let’s talk about feelings! or, talk about feelings with someone you trust
- Its okay to have negative feelings about parenting
- Try to rest when baby sleeps or get close to eight hours of sleep a day as you can
- Have some healthy snacks and get some help with meal prep
- Get out of the house everyday to fresh air and some light physical exercise like walking.
- Practice relaxation, even if it’s a few minutes with your feet up or a quick breath of fresh air
- Have time for yourself away from the baby
- Try to avoid caffeine/ alcohol
- Try to met with other new mothers/parents
How dads and other supporters can help?
Be aware that many of the stressors and problems you experience during the period of postnatal depression may not be indicative of your relationship, but they are consequences of the illness.
- Encourage her to talk to you about how she feels
- Help remind her that it’s not her fault and she’s not a bad mother
- Remind her how much you care
- Share in home and child-care responsibilities
- Accept help from friends and family
- If she’s not ready for sex again yet, be physically affectionate and maintain intimacy in other ways…… or maybe cook and do the dishes AND let her go shower so she has the energy to WANT to be intimate
- Take care of yourself. Find time out for yourself (other than at work), find someone to talk to, continue to follow some of your own interests, and be aware of your own needs.
Always trust your instincts. If you become more concerned about your partner’s wellbeing or that of your children, or notice any worsening of your partner’s symptoms, it might mean you need to contact her doctor or support services directly to let them know or to seek advice.
For example, if your partner shows any of the following signs:
- Talk of harming herself or the baby
- Bizarre thoughts or speech patterns, or risk- taking behaviour
- Behaviour that seems odd or is out of character
- Severe change in mood
- Obsession with morbid ideas, or statements like “You’d be better off without me.”
- Withdrawal from all social contact
Do you need more help?
Contact a community organization, mental health association, or your family doctor to learn more about support and resources in your area. If you can, take your partner or a friend with you for moral support and remember, these health professionals are there to listen and have the knowledge and skills to help you get better.
- Your family doctor
- Your obstetrician or midwife
- A social worker at your hospital
- Ask for a medical referral to a psychiatrist
- As well as speaking to a health professional, you may find it helpful to talk to an understanding and sympathetic member of your family or friend about how you are feeling
- You may find it helpful to be open and honest with other new moms. they may be feeling similar and you can have mutual support
- Postpartum psychosis is VERY RARE and occurs in 1/1000 births. It usually occurs in the first few weeks after birth. Mothers may:
- Feel confused and out of touch from reality
- Have intense thoughts of harming themselves or the baby
- Hear or see things that are not there
- Believe people or things are going to harm you or your baby
If you have any of these feelings or thoughts, don’t wait, don't be embarrassed. Get help right away. Call your Doctor now, go to your local hospital’s emergency department, or call a crisis intervention line.