Postpartum depression is a type of depression that a woman can develop after giving birth. It can range from moderate to severe. It can develop shortly after she delivers or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after giving birth.
What causes postpartum depression is unknown; it could any number of things. Doctors believe that the hormone changes either drops or spikes in specific hormones during and after the pregnancy may be the culprit. There are several unspecified non-hormonal factors that may also affect the woman’s moods during this period such as the ones listed below:
Lack of sleep
Changes at work
Having less free time or time to do what you want
Worrying about being a good mother
Worrying about the baby
Worrying about returning to work or leaving the baby to go out for a little while
Changes in the relationship with the baby’s father
Changes in other relationships
Some women have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression. These risks include:
Uncertainty about continuing the pregnancy (feelings of guilt of considering terminating the pregnancy after giving birth)
Under the age of 20 over the age of 40
Already have a mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder)
Family history of depression
Abuse alcohol, take illegal drugs, or smoke (all of which can cause harm to the baby)
Single or have a bad relationship with the baby’s father
Financial difficulties Have little to no support system (family and friends)
Any event that caused stress during the pregnancy (serious illness or death of a loved one) You had an illness or suffered an injury
Premature labor and delivery
Difficult labor that ended with an emergency vaginal delivery or C-section
Baby born with an illness or birth defect
If twins were born and only one survived
A woman who shows signs of postpartum depression needs to contact their doctor immediately.
The treatment for women who have postpartum depression can include medication, therapy, or both. Whether or not the new mom is breastfeeding will determine what medication, if any, will be prescribed.
Let us look at some other helpful ideas:
Don't hide your feelings, talk about it with your spouse/partner, family or close friends
Don't try to do too much, you’re only one person
Make time for yourself, even if it is only an hour a day
If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night, then sleep when the baby sleeps
Talk to other recently new moms about how they are feeling and what you can do to feel more like your old self
If you need to, go to therapy or join a support group for new moms or moms with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is serious and should not be taken lightly or ignored. If you have family or friends who just do not understand then maybe it is best if you separate yourself from them until you are feeling better again.
We want to do all we can to support families. Many families tell us of the overall improvement in their mental health after better sleep is achieved.