You’re not alone – Post Partum Depression, it’s not just the Baby Blues

is it postpartum depression or just the baby blues? What to do if you suspect PPD?You recently gave birth.

You were expecting a magical time of intense bonding and happiness with the arrival of your new baby.

Instead you feel blah, or may be worse than blah.

It’s not surprising among the hormonal shifts, the lack of sleep, the upset schedule, and the needs of a new baby, new moms often feel overwhelmed, tired, nervous and a little blue following the birth of their child. The vast majority of women experience the emotional roller coaster of the baby blues. However, when those feelings persist or are accompanied by any of the following:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of inadequacy as a parent or as a person
  • Inability to bond or feeling disconnected from the baby
  • Thoughts of suicide

These are indicative of Postpartum Depression, which affects between 10 and 20 percent of women postpartum making it the most common complication of childbirth. This is a significant number of women and their families within our community who are negatively impacted by this disease.

Local non-profit Heartsounds provides direct help to low-income women struggling with postpartum depression through free doula help. Check out information here on how you can access or support their mission

Dr. Irene Stafford of Obstetrix Medical Group and Asa Lader RN DONA share the following behaviors to look out for postpartum depression in yourself or in a woman you love.

Warning signs of postpartum depression:

  1. Mom is excessively tearful and cries all the time.
  2. The baby blues seem to extend past about two weeks after the baby is born
  3. Mom makes statements like ‘I’m a bad mom.’ or other self loathing statements
  4. Mom seems to sleep constantly, or doesn’t seem to be able to sleep at all
  5. Mom isn’t interested in eating or is overeating
  6. Mom is withdrawing from friends and family or seems particularly irritable or angry

While postpartum depression can affect any woman no matter what her age or socioeconomic background, Asa explains there are additional factors that may increase the risks:

  1. Little or no support from friends or partner
  2. A traumatic birth experience
  3. Moving homes in the last month
  4. History of depression or anxiety
  5. Previous infertility and fertility treatment
  6. Troubled relationship
  7. Struggling with breastfeeding
  8. Placing a child for adoption

Dr. Stafford adds to that list the following factors:

  1. If a mom is younger than 19 years old
  2. Grief following a miscarriage or stillbirth
  3. Single parent
  4. Partner is in the military

What to do if you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from postpartum depression:

Dr. Stafford emphasizes reaching out and getting help immediately:

  1. Call the office of your obstetrician or midwife and get an appointment. Postpartum depression is real, but there is treatment. If the baby blues don’t fade away after a couple of weeks, or are making it hard for you to take care of you or your baby, or are getting worse, call and make an appointment.
  2. If you are worried that you will hurt yourself or your child don’t hesitate to go to the Emergency Room. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are not character flaws, they are not something you control or just need to shake off. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are a very real complication of pregnancy and you deserve help
  3. Seek out support groups. It helps to know you’re not alone and there are resources within our community. See below for examples.
  4. Accept support from family and friends.

Many women hesitate to seek help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed, sometimes because they fear reprisal if they admit to their feelings. Dr. Stafford emphasizes that this will not happen, that physicians are there to help and that postpartum depression is real as is the treatment.

Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition’s Warmline [884-434-MOMS]
Asa volunteers for the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition’s Warmline (888-434-MOMS) where you can leave a message for a trained volunteer who has been there and knows personally about postpartum depression. Asa or another volunteer on duty will call back within a few hours to listen, to comfort and to direct you to local resources that can help.

 

Local Tucson non-profit Heartsounds addresses several of these increased-risk populations through no cost, in home help for low-income moms in the form of doulas. Lader, a certified doula herself, is on the board of Heartsounds and explains how doulas can help moms and babies.

Doulas can help you get rest and nutrition you need. Disturbed sleep and eating habits can exacerbate the situation.

Doulas can help mom with breastfeeding and with bottle-feeding. They can help answer questions; offer encouragement and guidance as new mothers face the challenges of caring for a new baby.

A recent Arizona Daily Star article provides an example of how Heartsounds doulas are helping women meet the challenge of postpartum depression.

If you or someone you love is struggling, please reach out to your obstetrian and make an appointment. Call the Warmline and find out about local support groups and resources or if need be, go to an emergency room.

“You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.”      

Support Groups

Tucson Postpartum Coalition provides information about local support groups

The Arizona Postpartum Coalition includes a Warmline

 

Trackbacks

  1. […] To find out more about the symptoms and signs of PPD check out this post You’re not alone – Postpartum Depression, it’s not just the Baby Blues […]

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