You're the proud mother of a new baby. You have looked forward to this happy event for months. So, why are you crying?
You could have the "baby blues". For the first week or two after giving birth, as many as eight out of 10 new moms get the baby blues. They may feel sad or anxious, burst into tears for no apparent reason or experience rapid mood swings. No wonder. Having a baby can be stressful, your hormone levels have just plunged and you may be sleep-deprived.
When it's more than just the blues
What if the blues last for more than a couple of weeks? Or if they begin weeks - or even months after you give birth? You could be suffering from a more serious - but fairly common - condition called postpartum depression (PPD). At least one out of 10 new mothers suffers from this treatable mood disorder. PPD can linger, or even worsen, if you don't get help.
If you have some of the following symptoms at ANY TIME after the birth of your child, and they're interfering with your day-to-day activities, you could have PPD.
- Sadness or depression
- Eating less or more than usual
- Too much or too little concern for your baby
- Loss of interest in hobbies
The most serious postpartum mood disorder is called postpartum psychosis. It's also the rarest type, affecting one or two out of 1,000 new mothers. This grave mental illness requires immediate medical treatment--and perhaps hospitalization. Symptoms may include:
- The feeling that someone is trying to hurt you or your baby
- Believing that your newborn is evil
- Severe sleep disturbances
- Extreme mood and behavior swings, from marked agitation to almost complete inactivity
Taking care of yourself and your baby
If you have the baby blues or PPD, your doctor can help you find relief. It is also important to help yourself. Here's how:
- Ask for help with housework and feedings
- Spend some time alone with your partner
- Get enough sleep. If possible, nap when your baby naps.
- Talk to your partner, family, friends or a counselor/mental health professional about your feelings
- Attend a postpartum support group
To learn more about your options, talk to your physician or call Mercy Family Birth Center at 712-279-2116.