When we welcome a new child into our families, our world changes—whether it is our first child or our fourth. A host of new responsibilities accompany the new member of the family. Mom’s body is adjusting from pregnancy to providing milk for baby. Sleep schedules, house chores, and relationships all change. It is no wonder that up to 70% of women experience the “baby blues” during the first 10 days after pregnancy. This can mean mood swings, emotional sensitivity, and crying. However, when these symptoms persist, postpartum depression may be developing.
Feeling overwhelmed may turn into feeling helpless and isolated. Feeling tired may turn into fatigue, leaving mom moving slower and not completing daily responsibilities. Mom may be sleeping much less or much more, or may find it hard to concentrate. All this can lead to feeling guilty for not being a better mom. Some moms become anxious about baby’s health. Other moms feel strangely detached from baby, family, and friends, as if nothing really matters anymore. At this point, mom may lose interest in eating, hobbies, or having fun with friends.
When some of these feelings (hopelessness, meaninglessness, loneliness, and purposelessness) and physical signs (difficulty sleeping, loss of concentration, slower movements, and decreased appetite) occur together, depression is likely. About 10-15% of women experience postpartum depression in the first year after giving birth. It is important to talk to a counselor or mental health professional about your concerns. Depression can be treated, and with help from friends, family, and professionals, you can begin to enjoy being a mother again.
Written by Ian Nelson, LLP intern