7 Truths About Postpartum Depression Every Mom Must Know
You know those commercials where a new mother happily snuggles with her sleeping newborn and everything looks like a fairytale?
That’s because it usually is.
If you’re one of those happy moms, then congratulations! You are lucky, loved and care-free. For most moms out there, though, postpartum is one of the most difficult times of their life. Going through the ‘baby blues’ (we’ll talk about it soon), lacking self-confidence, being scared about the future can all take a toll on a new mother’s mood.
Add social pressure to that and your risk for depression can increase to dangerous levels. If you or a loved one has given birth recently, this post is for you. Here are 7 truths about how motherhood can really go at first and what you need to remember about this journey.
It is common
As I mentioned above, social pressure can crush a mother’s spirit for good. Seeing all of those happy moms on social media makes it look like everyone’s getting the hang of motherhood – except for you.
Firstly, remember that nothing is what it seems especially on social media.
Secondly, having a baby is literally life changing. This is the one thing that can even change your core beliefs in an instant, so feeling confused, hurt, angry or sad is perfectly normal.
Geeta Sharma, ob-gyn at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, adds that exhaustion also plays a huge part in how you’re feeling. Many times, all you might need to feel better is some rest (more on that below).
It might be just baby blues
‘Baby blues’ is a term which refers to the first two weeks after giving birth. Donnica Moore, a New Jersey-based women’s health expert says that the baby blues may come with the following symptoms:
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Snapping out at everyone around you
- Feeling sad or lost
I know some mothers may want to figure it all out on their own. However, this is a very difficult stage, both emotionally and physically, for which you need all the help you can get.
The actual postpartum depression
If you still feel extremely unstable emotionally after the baby blues phase, it might be time to seek help. This could mean simply talking to a friend or a family member about everything you’re feeling, at first. Sometimes opening up to someone who understands what you’re going through can take the burden off your shoulders.
Here are some of the main signs:
- Bursting out in tears throughout the day
- Withdrawing from your loved ones
- Being unusually angry about many things
When you feel lost, seeking help is crucial for you and your baby’s wellbeing. Postpartum depression is treatable and there’s absolutely no need to feel ashamed about it. There’s so much support nowadays from moms all over the world, including social media accounts dedicated to this common illness.
ATTENTION! Extreme, untreated cases of postpartum depression can lead to postpartum psychosis. Luckily, this condition is very rare as it can be dangerous for both the mom and her child. If you’re afraid that you could hurt your baby, you might be dealing with postpartum psychosis, so make sure to seek immediate help from professionals.
Dads can have it too
While it’s significantly less encountered, male postpartum depression is also possible. A 2020 report published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that approximately 10% of new dads get depression after their baby’s birth.
The main symptoms in this case include sleep problems, lack of energy, loss of interest and general sadness. Unlike in women, the peak for male postpartum depression can pick about 3-6 months after birth.
RELATED: The Best Free Apps to Manage Your Depression in 2020
Sleep is crucial
Going from eight hours of sleep a night to none can alter your thoughts and emotions big time. As Dr. Moore explains, ‘we know sleep deprivation can aggravate every emotional and physical issue. Sometimes a new mom just needs a few hours of uninterrupted sleep to get back on track.’
Breastfeeding mothers can pump a meal’s worth of milk so a loved one can take care of the baby while they get some rest.
You can prevent it
A study published in PLOS Medicine in 2017 proved that women who struggled with depression in the past are 46% more likely to develop postpartum depression too. In such cases, a specialist can recommend medication (such as antidepressants) that is safe to take during pregnancy in order to reduce the risks.
Aside from this particular case, you can prevent postpartum depression by living a healthy, active lifestyle. Do your best to find reasons for joy during pregnancy and after birth, although it may seem difficult at first. Staying optimistic and asking for help when you need it are crucial for you and your baby.
You are a GOOD mom.
One of the most terrifying thoughts that haunt new mothers is that they’re not good enough. In fact, I think this thought pops up in any parent’s mind for the rest of their lives. For new mothers, though, it’s just one more reason to feel overwhelmed and miserable.
If you’re feeling that way, I want to tell you this:
You are a GOOD mother.
You’re good even if you take some time for your own needs and pleasures. You’re good even if you feel like you don’t have a clue about anything. You’re good no matter how you’ve given birth or what you’re feeding your baby.
And that tiny human loves you unconditionally.
In a world full of judgement, mothers need to be encouraged – even more than that, celebrated.
If you know a new mother, share this article with her. Let her know that someone, somewhere, appreciates everything she does.