Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

What is the difference between "baby blues" and postpartum depression?  Are you at risk for postpartum depression? Is there anything you can do to avoid it? What are the signs to look for, and when?

Baby Blues:

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  • Feeling withdrawn or unconnected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 baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment. These symptoms are a result of having a huge upsurge of hormones, not having very much sleep during labor/in the hospital, and having a new baby to take care of and worry about. Feelings of inadequacy toward new motherhood, lack of self-esteem, a lack of free time and stressful schedules add into all of this.

Postpartum Depression
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
There is a range with PPD - you may have anything on the range between a mild case, where baby blues symptoms continue after 2 weeks, and a severe case, called postpartum psychosis (very rare). Be sure to talk to a doctor if your symptoms of depression last beyond 2 weeks postpartum.

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
If you take medicine for depression, stopping your medicine when you become pregnant can cause your depression to come back. Do not stop any prescribed medicines without first talking to your doctor. Not using medicine that you need may be harmful to you or your baby.

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.

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


  1. I suffered from PPD for months after my son's birth and it was directly related to my birth experience and how I was treated by my caregivers. I don't have a history of depression or any other health issue, and I am happily married to the love of my life and we are financially secure. The baby was also planned so the PPD wasn't due to any emotional stress before or during the pregnancy. It was all based on my birth experience, and especially being unwillingly separated from my son after he was born, thus affecting our bonding experience. How we birth matters. I can attest to it. Our maternity care has a long way to go.

  2. Funny, we're on the same wavelength today! Just posted on PPD as well :)

  3. The Baby Blues is among the most typical kind of depression after delivery. It always happens in between 50 to 75% of new mommies.From the 5 days following the delivery, the mother could become tearful, moody or somewhat frustrated. Normally, this disorder can be a reaction to the delivery alone and it is typically just short-lived.

    As an advice,give yourself a break. Understand that it's not just you in this difficulty. Becoming a mother, particularly} a first-time mommy is tough one as well as demanding. It requires plenty of individual sacrifice for the initial 3 to 6} months, nevertheless it could possibly get less difficult.

  4. I suffered from PPD after I had my first son. It was a difficult thing to go through but the support from my family and friends got me through it. I also found a lot of help from I hope others with PPD can find this helpful too.

  5. Well, my emotions and my conscience was having a duel after I gave birth. I was just lucky enough though that my mom was there to help me out with taking care of my child. If not, PPD would have gotten me as a whole especially when my ex-husband was not supportive at all.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...