People tend to associate the word postpartum with depression. In reality, postpartum refers to the time after a child bearer gives birth. Postpartum depression, then, is clinical depression that occurs after birth, usually as a result of hormonal changes, the transition to parenting, and/or fatigue.
It can be challenging for new parents to talk about being unhappy after having a baby. In the age of social media, it can appear that other mothers are happy 100% of the time, and that life goes on perfectly after a new baby is welcomed into the family. But social media is carefully curated and what appears to be is not always the case. Because of this, there is a stigma attached to those who are having a difficult time adjusting to parenthood or to having an additional child. People who are experiencing signs of a Postpartum Mood Disorder may hesitate to seek help because they’re afraid they will be judged or considered an unfit parent.
Most people relate postpartum mood disorders to postpartum depression. However, other postpartum mood disorders can be just as debilitating. Postpartum mood disorders include the baby blues, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as the rarer postpartum psychosis. In fact, over 85% of mothers experience some type of postpartum mood disorder, making it an extremely common side effect of birth.
Signs of having a postpartum mood disorder can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Feeling exhausted all the time, despite any amount of rest you get
- Feeling sad or angry for most of the day
- Being unable to sleep because of constantly worrying about your baby
- Being afraid to go out
- Incessant crying for no reason
- Loss of interest in activities
- Constant fears of not being good enough
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby**
- Uncontrolled panic or anxiety attacks
- Suicidal thoughts**
**these are serious medical emergencies. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please call 911.
If you think you may have a postpartum mood disorder, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor. You should also start to begin to build a support network of people you trust that can include postpartum doula support.
Having a team of postpartum doulas available to you can help you manage symptoms by:
- Ensuring you are getting enough rest
- Providing someone knowledgeable, understanding, and non-judgmental to talk to
- Managing household tasks so you can focus on your wellbeing and bonding with baby
- Being available to help you recognize additional symptoms
- Offering resources for further support
- Providing referrals to support groups, counselors, and local Calgary programs for postpartum mood disorders
- Caring for your family so you can take time to yourself
It takes a great deal of bravery to speak up about what you are experiencing. Please know that you are not alone and combining the support from your doctor and a team of postpartum doulas will help you manage in the best way possible.