The birth of a baby can trigger many emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety and sometimes depression.
Many new moms experience the “postpartum baby blues” after childbirth, which includes mood swings, crying, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues usually begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and will usually last for up to two weeks. However some new moms experience a long-lasting form of depression called postpartum depression. If you experience postpartum depression, treatment can help you manage your symptoms and enjoy your baby.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Postpartum depression symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If not treated, postpartum depression may last for many months or sometimes over a year. Many new mothers feel reluctant or embarrassed to admit to feeling depressed after the birth of their baby. Society tells us that we are only supposed to feel joyful and not sad after giving birth. However if you experience any symptoms of postpartum postpartum depression, it is important to reach out for help and support from your doctor or therapist.
If you have suicidal thoughts
If at any time you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help from your partner or loved ones in taking care of your baby and call 911 or your local emergency assistance number to get help.
Also consider these options if you’re having suicidal thoughts:
- Call your mental health specialist.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
- Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
In my psychotherapy practice, I work with many women who are experiencing post partum depression. In addition to individual therapy I also have a group for new mothers to meet and discuss what they’re experiencing after the birth of their baby. Remember if you’re experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression, you’re not alone and there is help available.