In previous posts we have discussed many topics involving your pregnancy and pregnancy care. Currently we are discussing post pregnancy care or postpartum care. For this post we will be specifically focusing on and discussing postpartum depression and what you can do to beat it so you will be able to care for your new baby.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. It is not a character flaw or a weakness it is a condition. For some women it is simply a complication of giving birth. Postpartum depression occurs in nearly 15 percent of births and may begin shortly before or any time after childbirth, but commonly begins between a week and a month after delivery. Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.
Signs and symptoms a woman may experience include:
- Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friend
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Think about harming herself or her baby.
If you are or even think you are experiencing any of these symptoms seek treatment immediately. It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Postpartum depression may last for many months or longer if it is left untreated!
What is Baby Blues?
Signs and symptoms of baby blues include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
- Trouble sleeping
Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but it has more severe and extreme feelings of sadness and anxiety which might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her baby and needs treatment immediately. It is very important not to confuse these two conditions.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
Some women are at greater risk for developing postpartum depression because they have one or more risk factors, such as:
- Symptoms of depression during or after a previous pregnancy
- Previous experience with depression or bipolar disorder at another time in her life
- A family member who has been diagnosed with depression or other mental illness
- A stressful life event during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, such as job loss, death of a loved one, domestic violence, or personal illness
- Medical complications during childbirth, including premature delivery or having a baby with medical problems
- Mixed feelings about the pregnancy, whether it was planned or unplanned
- A lack of strong emotional support from her spouse, partner, family, or friends
- Alcohol or other drug abuse problems.
Postpartum depression can affect any woman regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or economic status. It does not have a single cause, but likely results from a combination of physical and emotional factors. Postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do. After childbirth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop. This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.
Prevention and Treatments for Postpartum Depression
There are effective treatments for postpartum depression. A woman’s health care provider can help her choose the best treatment, which may include:
- Counseling/Talk Therapy: This treatment involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional (a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker). Two types of counseling shown to be particularly effective in treating postpartum depression are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people recognize and change their negative thoughts and behaviors; and
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT), which helps people understand and work through problematic personal relationships.
- Medication: Antidepressant medications act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation. Many antidepressants take a few weeks to be most effective. While these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.
These treatment methods can be used alone or together.
Family members and friends may be the first to recognize symptoms of postpartum depression in a new mother. They can encourage her to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.
- Call your doctor.
- Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
- Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Postpartum depression isn’t generally a condition that you can treat on your own — but you can do some things for yourself that build on your treatment plan and help speed recovery.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Include physical activity, such as a walk with your baby, in your daily routine. Try to get adequate rest. Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol.
- Set realistic expectations. Don’t pressure yourself to do everything. Scale back your expectations for the perfect household. Do what you can and leave the rest.
- Make time for yourself. If you feel like the world is coming down around you, take some time for yourself. Get dressed, leave the house, and visit a friend or run an errand. Or schedule some time alone with your partner.
- Avoid isolation. Talk with your partner, family and friends about how you’re feeling. Ask other mothers about their experiences. Breaking the isolation may help you feel human again.
- Ask for help. Try to open up to the people close to you and let them know you need help. If someone offers to baby-sit so you can take a break, take them up on it. If you can sleep, take a nap, or maybe you can catch a movie or meet for coffee with friends.
Remember, the best way to take care of your baby is to take care of yourself.
If you’re feeling depressed after your baby’s birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. Awareness of what is best for you and your baby can make the difference between life and death when understanding the significant issue with the rate of babies dying before their 1st birthday in Ohio. Studies show that 2.5x more black babies are dying compared to the rate of all other babies. Why Black Babies was created to eradicate this issue and positively change these statistics. We need to rally around our black moms and moms-to-be to ensure they have the education, awareness and support for what they need to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. If you know a mom or mom-to-be, share this information with them and give them both the best future possible. More resources and help can be found at our website – spread the word!
We hope you enjoyed this post and learned something that could help a mom or mom-to-be and her precious baby stay healthy, happy, and safe. We love to hear from you so give us your feedback on our posts and let us know your thoughts and opinions. Visit and like/follow our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) with more information supporting the cause of keeping black babies alive and healthy!