Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Postpartum Depression

During pregnancy you are get yourself amped up for the big day and beyond.  There is so much anticipation and excitement leading up to becoming a new mommy and daddy.  I have had some people ask me a few questions about what they can expect for their first few weeks home from the hospital.  One momma sent me an email asking me all about postpartum depression.  She is about 22 weeks pregnant and has a concern that she will have postpartum depression because her mom had it after delivery.  There are a ton of questions about postpartum depression that women are looking into during their pregnancy.  I hope to answer a few!

What is the difference between “the baby blues” and postpartum depression?
“The baby blues” is something more common than mommas think.  You normally begins to see symptoms a few days after giving birth.  “The baby blues” happens because of the hormonal changes in your body happening post birth.  The symptoms include: 
  • mood swings
  • sadness
  • crying spells
  • trouble sleeping
  • irritability
  • changes in appetite
  • trouble concentrating
All of the symptoms are perfectly normal post delivery.  They should last from 1 to 2 weeks.  It is when your symptoms last longer than this that you want to discuss it a bit further with your doctor or midwife.  

Postpartum Depression is a severe depression with some symptoms similar to “the baby blues”.  At first it is hard to decipher postpartum depression from “the baby blues” because of the similarity in the symptoms.  With postpartum depression you can have similar symptoms to “the baby blues” such as:
  • mood swings
  • crying spells 
  • sadness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • irritability
The difference comes in when the symptoms become destructive to your life as a new momma.  You may find some other symptoms with postpartum depression such as:
  • neglectful of your baby
  • negative feelings towards your baby
  • concern you will hurt your baby
  • disregard for yourself
  • constant exhaustion
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • constant guilt
  • changes in appetite
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Is postpartum depression genetic?  What causes postpartum depression?

There are many factors that put you at a higher risk for postpartum depression.  Just because your mom had it with her children does not necessarily mean you will have it with yours.  Some things that put you at risk are:
  • history of depression
  • history of severe PMS
  • medical complications for you or your baby during pregnancy and/or delivery
  • stressful relationships
  • lack of support from family and/or friends

A difficult relationship with your baby fathers or difficult family relationships will add a great deal of unnecessary stress to the already stressful new mommyhood.  This can add fuel to the fire if you are already at risk for postpartum depression.  You are also dealing with so many changes to your body after you have delivered your baby.  You may be in severe pain and discomfort and may feel unattractive with your new post baby body which can add to feelings of depression.  One of the biggest causes of postpartum depression is the drop in estrogen and progesterone.  This drop can lead to depression.

Can I prevent postpartum depression from happening to me?  How?

There are some things to do to help you ease into motherhood and keep the stress levels down.

Get sleep.  Rest as much as possible.  When your baby sleeps, you should take advantage of the time and get a little cat nap in.

Set time for you.  Talk to your partner about having some time for yourself, even if it is just to take a shower.  Have a little bit of alone time to just decompress after your long day with your baby.  Get a schedule going with your partner that allows you that time.

Get fresh air.  Taking your baby out for a stroll is the best thing for the both of you.  Some fresh air really makes the difference with helping your post delivery recovery.  There is nothing like fresh air to help a baby sleep.  Of course you can’t bring your baby out in 20 degree weather so if you have a winter baby do your best to have lights on open the shades to let the light in.

Exercise.  It is so important to be active.  It will help keep the endorphins flowing and improve any depression you may be feeling.  Studies have proven that exercise is a wonderful medicine for any depression.

Surround yourself with love and support.  Keep out any negativity!  Whether it is your in-laws or someone down the street...keep yourself surrounded with the people who will love, support and care for you.  There is no need to have any negativity around you or your beautiful family.  Negativity from outsiders will not only add to postpartum depression but it can also cause problems between you and your partner.  It is best to nip it in the bud before it starts and make a healthy choice not to be around it.

Share your feelings.  Set some time for a date night with your partner at least once a week when you and your partner can talk about how you are feeling about the new exciting things happening in your life.

Ask for help.  It is totally okay to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Being overwhelmed doesn’t make you a bad mommy.  It is part of motherhood. 

Breastfeed.  Breastfeeding, like exercise, releases endorphins and keeps the sprits up.  it does wonders for your body and your baby.  It is natural and your body's reaction to delivering a baby,

1 comment:

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