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Postpartum Mental Health

Postpartum is a complex time in a woman's life.  It is filled with big changes, new expereinces, physical and hormonal changes.  It is a time when women shift their focus to their new baby which can lead to them neglecting their own needs.  Woman can feel lost, alone and uncertain what will help them feel themselves.  Things can feel chaotic which can lead to feelings of a need to control which can bee defeating and impact their interpersonal relationships.  Postpartum can also be a time of thoughts about their own family of origin.  Mama, you are not alone in your feelings and you are not stuck in them.  You can expereince changes to help you feel confident in your new role as mama. 

Baby Blues

About 70-80% of new moms expereince some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of a child.  These can begin as early as a few days after baby's arrival.  This is a time when your hormones are adjusting and the lack of sleep is beginning to take a toll.  Some women find that talking to a therapist during this time is helpful in learning how to manage these feelings and how your support systems can help support you.

Symptoms of Baby Blues:

  • Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason

  • Impatience

  • Irritability

  • Restlessness

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue or insomnia

  • Sadness

  • Mood changes

  • Poor Concentration

Postpartum Depression

About 15-20% of new moms expereince what is classified as postpartum depression.  Symptoms can occur within the first year after baby is born.  Women can have good days and more difficult days with their symptoms.  Partners often have a difficult time knowing how to support during this time which can increase feelings of disconnection.  The earlier treatment is sought for PPD, the better outcomes for treatment.  If a woman is expereincing PPD, it is vitally important for her to seek treatment with a therapist and her healthcare provider.

Symptoms of PPD:

  • Fatigue

  • Feeling sad, hopeless and overwhelmed

  • Trouble sleeping and eating

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • Low interest in things previously enjoyed

  • Withdrawing from family

  • No interest in your baby

  • Thoughts of hurting yourself

Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety affects about 10% of postpartum women.  Women may experience it on its own or with depression.  Moms can also experience panic episodes in addition to everyday anxiety.  She may experience anxiety around their baby or in relation to other things like work or family.  Anxiety can hinder a woman's daily life.  This does not have to be the case and I encourage you to reach out if you are having difficulty with PPA.

Symptoms of PPA:

  • Changes in eating and sleeping

  • Racing thoughts you have difficult controlling

  • Constant worry

  • Impending fear that something bad is going to happen

  • Difficult sitting still and focusing

  • Physical symptoms such as dizziness, hot flashes or nausea

In addition to these postpartum mental health concerns, there are less common ones such as postpartum OCD, postpartum PTSD, and postpartum psychosis.  To read about these, please visit the American Pregnancy Association.  If you find that you are struggling with any of these postpartum mental health concerns, please reach out for help!

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