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Postpartum Depression (Depression after pregnancy)

Baby blues and postpartum depression

After having a baby when new parents are just getting used to the new schedule and their child, comes the possibility of the mother’s depression.  It is normal for new mothers to have it to some extent. It is sometimes labeled “baby blues.”  However, it can become a major problem.  Some women get so depressed that they cannot take care of themselves or the baby.  At this time, it becomes obvious that medical attention is necessary for the mother and is now named Postpartum Depression.

sad woman with little boy

Some of the reasons for postpartum depression:

Causes can be:

1.   Hormones – As the mother’s body adjusts to motherhood, her body is trying to get back to normal.  This can take up to a year for her hormones to fully get settled to what was normal before pregnancy.

2. Fatigue – Not only has the mother just gone through an exhausting experience during childbirth, she is also not getting as much sleep as normal with the new baby’s care.

3.   Overwhelmed – It may not be her first child. However, bringing a new baby to home is a big change.  She may feel like she is not getting any help from others. She has to do everything that she used to as well as take care of the new baby.

4.  Home stress – There may have been things that were a stress before the baby such as; financial issues, too small home, siblings wanting her attention as well as the baby, and no help from spouse.

5.  Self doubt – With just having a baby, she may not feel pretty or good enough to be a mother.  If the baby is demanding or sick and crying a lot, she may feel she is not doing anything right.

6.  Lifestyle – If the mother is young, usually under 20 they have a higher chance of being depressed.  If she uses drugs, alcohol or smokes, she has a greater risk of depression.  If she has a history or family history of anxiety or depression, she is more prone to suffer from postpartum depression.

Signs to look for

The things you must watch out for vary depending on the extent of her depression.  If she simply has the “baby blues” she may cry over simple things, get upset easily, and seem nervous a lot.  If she has postpartum depression, the signals to watch for are worse:

  • “Baby Blues” not going away – When the new mother has had the baby blues for more than a few months and seems to be getting more agitated, it could be full depression.
  • Eating – When the new mother does not want to eat or does not eat very much.
  • Moody – If her moods/attitude is getting worse or she seems to go from one extreme (happy) to the other (real sad) a lot of the time.
  • Baby – If she does not seem to want to hold, cuddle, or take care of her baby very often.
  • Self – If she does not want to take care of herself, if she talks about not being good enough to take care of the baby.
  • Sleep – She may not sleep at night or may be sleeping all the time.
  • Bad words – She may talk about suicide or hurting herself or the baby.
  • Anxiety – She may be very nervous about everything or overly nervous about the baby and if it is okay.

If you as a new mother notice yourself feeling any of these signs, talk to your doctor about them.  If you notice someone else, your spouse or friend, try to get them to tell the doctor, or go with them and tell the doctor yourself.

Is there any way to help?

If you are a family member, friend, spouse or the new mother, there are things that you can do to help the “Baby Blues” not turn into Postpartum Depression.  While everyone is cooing over the baby, the mother feels less important and sometimes invisible. Make sure the mother takes some time for herself, maybe even going to the park.  Time alone or out of the house will make her feel less cooped up and that she is still a great person.  Sometimes, just giving her the opportunity to go to the market to do shopping, will help.

Family that lives close to the new mother can really help a lot.  Family should offer to watch the baby while the mother gets extra sleep.  Even if it is only for a few hours a week, that break when she can just sleep will relieve her fatigue.  Helping clean and organize the house or the baby’s room will be a relief for her as well.

Spouse and siblings should understand that she could not do everything and still take care of the baby.  Be helpful around the house, and with the baby.  Understand that she is very tired and her time is in high demand with the baby.  She will have plenty of time to pay attention to everyone once things settle down and the baby gets more of a schedule.

The mother can also do things to help herself not fall into a deep depression.  Always try to sleep when the baby sleeps.  This is very important in the first few weeks.  Eat and drink properly.  Your body needs lot energy and if you do not get the nutrition and fluid for your need, it will cause more problems than depression.  Take some time, even a long hot bath, it will refresh you and give you some time to be you.  Ask for help.  Ask your family, spouse, friends, and even the baby’s siblings to help you.  It could be as little as a sibling helping to keep their new little baby occupied for a few minutes.  Or as much as giving you a day away, either way, ASK.  Do not feel that you, because you are the mom, have to do it all yourself.

If you notice any of the signals or just feel depressed, call the doctor and make an appointment.  It is not unusual to feel some extent of “Baby Blues,” but if it continues or gets worse, go and talk to the doctor.  They will be the one to tell you if it is something you can work through alone or if you need medication.  Enjoy your baby, they are only little for so long and you are the great reason they are here.

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