After the long, arduous journey of growing a tiny human followed by the gauntlet of bringing them into the world, many mothers are shocked to learn that the hard part is just beginning. The hormone fluctuations, coupled with recovery from even a routine delivery can be overwhelming. Add to that mix a screaming baby who seems intent on never letting you sleep again, and getting through the day can seem an insurmountable challenge.
Clinically, “postpartum blues” refers to a short-term condition characterized by several mild depressive symptoms including sadness, crying, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, decreased concentration, and mood swings.
Baby blues are normal, so much so that many experts agree that more new mothers have baby blues than do not. These symptoms typically resolve without treatment within two weeks of delivery. When symptoms worsen or persist for longer than this two-week period, postpartum depression must be considered.
Postpartum depression is less common than postpartum blues, but still very common. Diagnosis of postpartum depression requires an increasing severity of the symptoms, that cause “clinically significant distress or impairment.” Postpartum Depression may lead to impaired bonding with the newborn, abnormal infant development, cognitive impairment of the child, marital discord and even suicide or infanticide.
Postpartum depression treatment options include talk therapy or medications. Your doctor will help you decide if medication may be right for you.
After delivery of your baby, it is important to:
• Follow up with your OB/GYN and pediatrician
• Be honest with yourself and your healthcare provider so that your needs can be fully addressed
• Remember that your feelings are valid and temporary
Feeling overwhelmed is normal, but it can also be a red flag.
Screening for postpartum depression is one of the most important parts of your postpartum checkups. In my practice, I like to see my patients back in the office within two weeks of delivery and again at six weeks. Our pediatricians also play a large part in helping identify patients in need.
Hang in there, new moms. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Maternal Mental Health Support in Zachary
If you feel you are suffering from postpartum depression or the baby blues, you need the support of a knowledgeable and understanding physician. At Lane OB/GYN, Dr. Joshua Best provides experienced, compassionate, and comprehensive care. Please call 225-658-1303 to make an appointment.