Having a baby is the happiest time in our lives, right? This is not always true for everyone. It is true however, that this is one of the biggest transitions in our lives. Any transition, whether it be good or bad, may cause distress because we are experiencing something new for the first time. The minute a baby is born everything changes, this new person needs care and attention 24/7! That in itself can be overwhelming!
What Is the “Baby Blues?”
The above reasons are why having the “baby blues” is so common. Usually with the baby blues, the symptoms last a short time, about 2 weeks, and they are not causing major distress in life. Most women report feeling weepy, sad, and some slight mood instability. These symptoms can be caused by the normal adjustment that occurs after having a baby and the hormonal changes that occur throughout the pregnancy and delivery process.
When Your Symptoms Are More Than Just “The Blues”
If the symptoms you think are “the blues” persist for a longer duration (more than 1 or 2 weeks) or increase in severity then it might be a perinatal mood disorder like postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.
When experiencing postpartum depression, women report being sad and depressed, irritable, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, feeling incompetent as a parent, fatigue, loss of interest, and reduced appetite. It is also common to have negative thoughts about whether the choice to have a baby was right, resulting in feeling shameful and guilty.
These symptoms are likely to cause impairment in daily functioning, for example, having doubts of the ability to care for a baby may cause a mother to rely on a spouse to always tend to the child. The mother then may have feelings of guilt about not valuing this time with her baby and her competency level.
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety
There is some overlap in the above symptoms with postpartum anxiety including feeling incompetent as a parent, irritability, fatigue, reduced appetite, and loss of interest. In addition, mother’s report having excessive worries about a variety of concerns almost all of the time, racing thoughts, trouble sleeping, sense of dread or gloom, and thoughts that people may judge her ability to parent. These symptoms may also cause impairment in daily functioning.
For example, a mother may not leave her home in fear that something may happen to her baby while she is away. In addition, a mother may check on her baby while sleeping several times in a short period to be certain they are still breathing.
Being a parent of a baby can be extremely difficult! The hormonal changes within our bodies and the changes in our daily routine can be too much to handle at times. It can be a relief to know that a lot of mother’s feel this way and there is support available.
Ways To Get Help
If you relate to any of the symptoms of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety there are steps you can take to be supported:
1. Talk to your family doctor or your OBGYN
2. Contact us at Move Forward Counseling where we have therapists who specialize in maternal
3. Contact Postpartum Support International for more information and for a list of local support
groups in your area, www.postpartum.net.
Author: Melissa Sauder, LPC
Melissa is a licensed professional counselor who loves helping women learn to empower themselves so they can lead a healthy, fulfilling life. Her therapy is spending time with her dog, a labradoodle named Sammy.