Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Postpartum Something

PostpartumAs I have discussed with y’all, there are some things you want to be on the look out for once you have delivered your baby.  When all the dust settles, the visiting decreases, the meals stop coming, and it is now just you, your partner, and your new baby, the baby blues may set in.  It does not happen to everyone, I am so thankful to have skipped over the baby blues, the postpartum depression and all the glory that comes with it.  I was recalling my first few weeks home with our new baby and thinking back about my experience.  Though I did not have postpartum depression, I had postpartum something...there are more things to be on the look out for than just postpartum depression.  Between the hormones, the lack of sleep, and the overall adjustment of life as you know it, it is perfectly natural to experience some form of emotional vulnerability.  For some women, a good nights rest, a hot shower, and a home cooked meal will do the trick; however, for some women, nothing helps.

When nothing is seeming to help, and you have symptoms of postpartum depression.  Click here to see more on postpartum depression.  If the symptoms are similar but not quite the same, it is possible you could be suffering from postpartum anxiety or postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder.

What is postpartum anxiety?
The definition for anxiety is feeling worried, nervous, or unsettled about something, an event or situation.  I have never had anxiety in my life. Ever. My mom and dad always say I cause anxiety, I don’t have it.  After having my son, I have had serious anxiety.  The stress of a new baby can bring on anxiety.  In my own life, my anxiety is postpartum situational anxiety brought on my dealing with family stress.  My husband and I were faced with many difficult challenges involving his family that has now caused me to have serious anxiety.  It stemmed from our son being born and the issues with them on top of our newborn was too much for me.  If you are having intense feelings of worry or panic about your baby or even in general after birth, it is very possible you could have postpartum anxiety disorder.  This anxiety will come up within the first 2 or 3 weeks of being home.  Some women have some symptoms that mimic postpartum depression, but not all.

Symptoms of this anxiety are:
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Chest pains or discomfort
  • Feeling like you can not catch your breath
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Sweating
  • Faintness
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Fear of dying
If you are experiencing any of the above call your doctor or midwife immediately.  

What is postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is recurring fear that will lead you to do repetitive behavior, literally compulsions.  To an outsider the compulsion may seem incredibly extreme, but not necessarily to the person suffering.  Someone who suffers from OCD sees danger everywhere, leading them to extreme compulsive behavior to protect from whatever the danger is they feel could be harmful to them.  Postpartum OCD is opposite of postpartum depression.  Women who have postpartum OCD live in constant fear of something bad happening to their baby, far beyond the normal worries new mommies may have, contrary to a women with postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.
If you find you are constantly thinking about violent thoughts happening to your baby, you may have postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. These thoughts will come up randomly in the first couple weeks after giving birth.

What causes these postpartum disorders?
There is no single thing that can be held accountable for any of the postpartum disorders I have mentioned.  It is truly a combination of hormonal, environmental, psychological, and genetics. 

What can I do to be less at risk?
Of course the number one thing you must do is call your doctor or midwife if you experience any symptoms that make you feel you may have any of the above.  That being said, there are definitely some things you can do to help your be less at risk with postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD:

Take care of you. Try to get rest any time that you can and keep a good diet. 

Lower your expectations.  Don’t expect too much of yourself.  If you have clinical depression, anxiety, or OCD, it takes every ounce of your energy just too get up and showered everyday.  You should not expect anything of yourself and feel guilty because of how you are feeling.  Rather than have expectations of yourself, you should set goals for yourself and go a little bit at a time.

Ask for help
. Part of being a good momma is knowing when to ask for help.  Don't be proud or afraid of asking for help.  In order to get better, family support and help from friends is a huge part.

Talk it out.  Have someone who you can confide in and talk to them about how you are feeling.  Joining groups with postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD is a huge help.  Women don’t realize quite how many other women are experiencing the same feelings.

Get yourself outside. Get a stroller, put your baby in a stroller and get outside!  Fresh air is the best thing for you and your baby.  It is not good to be cooped up in the house, that will just fuel the fire.
How can I help my partner during her postpartum period?

The postpartum period is just as difficult for the daddy too. Simply be there for whatever she may need.  Do a bit of research to understand what she may be going through and try not to be judgmental.  Just remember that you can not fix this.  The only thing you can do is be supportive.  She will need to seek the proper help from her doctor or midwife.  If you notice some things are off about your partner but she is not seeing for herself and you think that may be signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD call her doctor or midwife and discuss what you should do.

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