For many couples, having a baby is an answer to prayer. But sometimes, the first few weeks post-birth don’t feel like a fairy tale. Feeling teary-eyed, emotional, and discouraged are all common after bringing home a new addition to the family.
“After giving birth, over 70 percent of new moms experience ‘the baby blues,’” says Pam Stout, BSN, MPH, LCCE, IBCLC, certified lactation consultant for Kettering Health Network. “This occurs because of the enormous changes in hormone levels, loss of sleep, and just the life changes of adding a child to the family.” Hormonal changes are closely connected to emotions, and it’s not uncommon to experience rapidly changing moods, weepiness, and a general sense of feeling overwhelmed.
Are all negative feelings postpartum depression?
About one in five women experience postpartum depression or anxiety, says Pam, which can make many women wonder if their baby blues feelings are something more serious.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression can include:
“Baby blues will go away as a mom’s body adjusts and she grows accustomed to the new schedule and responsibilities,” says Pam. “An important factor in differentiating baby blues from postpartum depression is how long the feelings last. Symptoms that begin or last longer than two to three weeks after delivery are likely something more than baby blues.”
Finding treatment and support
“With appropriate treatment and support,” says Pam, “a mom will quickly realize that she is not alone and she did not cause this. Sometimes simple changes like getting more sleep, sunlight and vitamin D, and counseling can help moms significantly on their road to recovery.”
Connecting with other new moms in a safe setting can also help. The Dayton Regional Postpartum Depression Support Network provides support and resources for new moms through a program called Many Shades of Blue. Call (937) 401-6844 to find out more and get connected.
There is never any shame in asking for help. If you are experiencing any feelings of postpartum depression, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Find a doctor who can help at ketteringhealth.org/findaphysician.