Many women have the baby blues in the days after childbirth. This means that they:
- Have mood swings
- Feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
- Have crying spells
- Lose your appetite
- Have trouble sleeping
- Feeling withdrawn or unconnected
- Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
- Loss of concentration
The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe than those of baby blues. Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth., an occurs in 15% of mothers. In addition to the symptoms above, postpartum depression may include:
- Thoughts of hurting the baby
- Thoughts of hurting yourself
- Not having any interest in the baby
Certain factors may increase your risk of depression during and after pregnancy. If you:
- Are under age 20
- Currently abuse alcohol, take illegal substances, or smoke (these also cause serious medical health risks for the baby)
- Did not plan the pregnancy, or had mixed feelings about the pregnancy
- Had depression, bipolar disorder (for example, manic depression), or an anxiety disorder before your pregnancy, or with a previous pregnancy
- Had a stressful event during the pregnancy or delivery, including personal illness, death or illness of a loved one, a difficult or emergency delivery, premature delivery, or illness or birth defect in the baby
- Have a close family member who has had depression or anxiety
- Have a poor relationship with your significant other or are single
- Have financial problems (low income, inadequate housing)
- Have little support from family, friends, or your significant other
Women who are depressed during pregnancy have a greater risk of depression after giving birth.
If you're not sure if you have postpartum depression, you can take this Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale quiz online.
Tips to Reduce Risk of Postpartum Depression:
Mood changes are common during huge life events. Making sure you have good social support before, during, and after birth, as well as during the "fourth trimester" can make a huge difference in one's ability to deal with these big changes. Don't feel bad about asking for help, getting some free time to yourself, or joining a support group! And don't be afraid to discuss your feelings with your partner. Getting as much rest as you can and not trying to do too much helps a lot! Also, some moms say they've had success consuming their placenta, generally via encapsulation, in improving mood after childbirth.
MORE GREAT RESOURCES
These are some resources for moms who think they might have postpartum depression and are looking for more information:
Postpartum Progress - one of the most widely read blogs on PPD.
Postpartum Voice - stories, resources, and insights
Beyond Postpartum blog
PPD to Joy blog
HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH A MOM WHO HAD PPD, OR HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED IT YOURSELF? What advice would you give a doula on baby blues and PPD?
Info source: Women'sHealth.Gov and PubMed Health