Bringing a new baby into the family can introduce a whole host of emotions, from excitement and joy to sadness and anxiety. This can cause both confusion and even guilt for many mamas who may feel a sense of shame surrounding these negative feelings.
Bringing a new baby into the family can introduce a whole host of emotions, from excitement and joy to sadness and anxiety. The flux of hormones coupled with the extreme life change, be it your first baby or your fifth, can contribute to several of these negative feelings. This can cause both confusion and even guilt for many mamas who may feel a sense of shame surrounding this unexpected mental state, which is why it’s even more important to open the dialogue — so no one has to feel alone.
The vast majority of women (up to 80 percent) may experience a period known as the “baby blues” following childbirth, which can start a few days after delivery and last up to two weeks. This mild and temporary form of depression can include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and feelings of being overwhelmed, and symptoms should disappear on their own within a couple of weeks.
But if these feelings of extreme sadness persist or intensify, they could lead to postpartum depression, which can interfere with a woman’s ability to care both for herself and for her family. PPD symptoms can mirror that of the “baby blues” but for a longer time period and might also include withdrawal from loved ones, difficulty bonding with your baby, changes in appetite or sleep, intense feelings or irritability and anger, hopelessness, harmful thoughts or feelings of worthlessness. While the condition can occur any time after childbirth, it typically begins between a week and a month post-delivery and occurs in nearly 15 percent of births (or as many as one in seven). The key is to not feel embarrassed or ashamed by PPD — it does not mean you are failing as a mother — in fact, the more you talk about it, either with a spouse, a trusted friend or a doctor, the quicker you can overcome it.
While postpartum depression can affect anyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity or status, some women may be at a greater risk for developing the condition, especially if they pose one or more of the below factors:
There are several things you can do to avoid the onset of postpartum depression, even if you may be at a higher risk. A few include:
If you find yourself struggling with PPD, your healthcare provider can help determine the best course of action, which may include:
With effective treatment, symptoms of postpartum depression can subside in 8 to 12 weeks.
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