The birth of a baby is a wonderful experience. However, many women feel sad, anxious, afraid, or angry after childbirth. The postpartum period is a time of extreme stress with the responsibility that surrounds such an enormous life change. This stress combined with the hormonal changes of childbirth can take a toll on a new mom. It is important for new moms, their family members/support system, and healthcare providers to recognize this stress.

Baby Blues

Somewhere between 70-85% of postpartum women experience some symptoms of “baby blues.” Baby blues causes a rapidly changing mood (the reason a new mom is happy one minute and crying the next). Other symptoms include irritability, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. Symptoms peak around the 4th or 5th day post delivery and usually stop by 2 weeks. These symptoms do not usually interfere with a mom’s ability to care for her newborn.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is different from the baby blues, symptoms are persistent and often more debilitating. Postpartum depression happens in about 10-15% of women. Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Sluggishness, fatigue
  • Feeling sadness, hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Difficulty sleeping/sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating/confusion
  • Crying for “no reason”
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Fear of harming the baby or oneself
  • Moms with postpartum depression can have some or all of the above symptoms. These symptoms often lead new moms to feel guilty, ashamed, and isolated. The important thing for moms to realize is that they are not alone. Many women experience postpartum depression. Their feelings are real. There is help.

If postpartum depression is suspected, please contact a healthcare provider. Some websites that I feel have good information include the following:

www.postpartum.net
www.healthyminds.org
www.ACOG.org (search “postpartum depression”)