Venus Kennedy, LCMHCS
Postpartum Depression or the "Baby Blues."
I want to start by telling you to throw out the myths and fantasies of what you thought motherhood would be. YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOM!!!!
It is ok, no one is judging you, we feel it too! For example, you may be thinking, “My needs don’t matter anymore, taking care of a baby is easy for good moms, or I should be able to do this all by myself, and I should be feeling happiness.” Society does not tell us how hard motherhood is going to be. For years women have failed to talk about the emotional and physical struggle surrounding the prenatal and postpartum stages. A common phrase I hear when working with women is, “how come no one told me about this?”
Well I am here to help normalize and validate these feelings for you mama. You may be surprised to hear that most new moms (around 80%) experience the normal “Baby Blues.” So you’re not alone! Bringing a brand new baby home can be an emotional roller coaster ride with no sleep and a lot of extra stress. The good news is you can expect to feel better by the time baby is around two weeks old.
However, If your feelings of sadness last longer than that, or become worse instead of better, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. It is more severe and lasts longer than the baby blues, about 10% of women get it. You’re more likely to have postpartum depression if you have a history of depression (or depressed during pregnancy) or if it runs in your family.
How do you know if it is baby blues or postpartum depression?
When It’s the Baby Blues
Your mood swings quickly from happy to sad. One minute, you’re proud of the job that you’re doing as a new mom. The next, you’re crying because you think you’re not up to the task. You don’t feel like eating or taking care of yourself because you’re exhausted. You feel irritable, overwhelmed, and anxious.
When It’s Postpartum Depression
You feel hopeless, sad, worthless, or alone all the time, and you cry often. You don’t feel like you’re doing a good job as a new mom. You’re not bonding with your baby. You can’t eat, sleep, or take care of your baby because of your overwhelming despair. You could have anxiety and panic attacks.
Remember society doesn’t give you space to feel negative about motherhood, so you may be experiencing guilt, shame, or fear that others will think negative of you as a mother. Please don’t let that stop you from asking for help and seeking treatment. Treatment can help you feel like yourself again, so it’s important to seek help quickly.
What does help look like? It will look different for every family, but the idea recipe for help is; support, therapy and medication. It is important to note there are safe medications for new mom’s to take while nursing.
Your counselor can use a variety of counseling techniques, but a few popular interventions are;
Cognitive behavioral therapy. You will work with your counselor to identify, then change, thoughts and behaviors that are harmful to your mental health.
Interpersonal therapy. Your therapist helps you better understand your behaviors in your relationships and what is the best and most effective way for you to problem solve.
Mindfulness therapy. This includes exercises such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation. These exercised have been shown to reduce blood pressure and promote recovery.
Bringing a new baby home changes the dynamic of the family, it may also be beneficial for you and your partner to attend therapy together. Around 1 in 10 partners will also experience depression in the postpartum period.
My advice, accept help when people offer it, sleep whenever you can, eat as healthy as possible, get out and move a little. Lastly, try not to worry about the laundry or dishes, those will still be there next week. Even better, make a list for those that want to offer help, they can do the dishes or cook you meals! This is only temporary, if you seek help you will get relief and be back to yourself again, freeing you up emotionally to bond with your new baby and enjoy your new life as a mom