Maternal Mental Health “Baby Blues” Perinatal & Postpartum Depression
The birth of a baby is a beautiful event filled with anticipation, happiness, and excitement in welcoming the new baby. You have probably had dreams of being delighted after childbirth. Instead, you face disappointment, confusion, and heartache in not understanding your emotions and responses to motherhood impacting your mental health and well-being. Moreover, attachment bonds negatively impact your ability to provide the emotional connection and bond with your baby.
It is common for new mothers to experience a temporary episode of the “baby blues” and feel anxious, stressed, or moody after the birth of their baby. This usually subsides with support from your partner, family, and friends. However, one in every eight to ten women within one year or more after the birth of a newborn infant develop postpartum depression or postpartum mood disorder. According to researchers, hormones may cause unbalanced chemicals in the brain to fluctuate, increasing your anxiety and depression and increasing moodiness.
New mothers may be hesitant or ashamed to share with anyone, even their physician, how awful they feel. You may think that these feelings and thoughts will mean that you are a bad mother. It is essential to understand that postpartum depression is not a character flaw or sign of personal weakness. Postpartum depression can affect any woman, regardless of her culture, age, race, or social-economic status.
Most new mothers experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly includes sensitivity, mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and sleep disturbance. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks. If these symptoms do not subside, postpartum depression sets in, producing an acute and severe form of depression.
What Is Perinatal Depression?
It is one of the most common Obstetric & Gynecology medical complications for women during pregnancy and the postpartum period after pregnancy. The condition affects one in seven women and begins during pregnancy, throughout the pregnancy, and the twelve months after giving birth.
Symptoms of Perinatal Depression
Frequent crying or weepiness
Loss of enjoyment in pleasurable activities
Baby Blues Symptoms
These typically only last a few days to one or two weeks after the birth of your baby and dissipate after this period.
· Mood swings
· Irritability and moodiness
· Feeling overwhelmed
· Crying spells
· Poor concentration
· Appetite problems
· Sleeping disturbance
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Sadness and unmanageable crying
Isolating from family and friends
Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
Changes in appetite – overeating or undereating
Excessive irritability, anger, and worry
Being afraid and fearful
Lack of energy and motivation
Difficulty form a bond with your baby
Guilt, despair, unworthy, hopeless
Difficulty concentrating or make decisions
Thoughts of self-harming or suicide
Thoughts of harming the baby
Postpartum Depression Risk Factors
Previous depression diagnosis
Postpartum depression in previous pregnancies
Miscarriages and Infant Grief and Loss
Becoming a first-time mother
A family history of mental illness: bipolar, depression, anxiety
An alcohol and substance abuse history
Past trauma history emotional, physical, and sexual abuse
Medical complications at birth and delivery
Extreme sleep deprivation
Baby’s health and medical challenges
Lacking support from your partner, family, and friends
High stress related to interpersonal relationship issues
Previous menstrual cycle moodiness
Experiencing depression during the pregnancy
High stress with financial, immigration, or legal issues
Multiethnic and multiracial bias and microaggressions
If You Are Experiencing a Crisis, Suicidal Thoughts or Thoughts of Harming Your Baby
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help in taking care of your baby.
· Immediately call 911 or the local hospital emergency room
· Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK
· (1-800-273-8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
· Chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
· Contact the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
· Text HELLO to 741741.
· Seek help from your primary care physician
· Call a mental health professional
· Reach out to your partner, close friend, or family.
· Contact a spiritual leader in your faith community.
Postpartum depression. Office of Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression.
Postpartum depression. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/postpartum-care-and-associated-disorders/postpartum-depression.
Viguera A. Postpartum unipolar depression: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search.
What is postpartum depression? American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression.