Many of my clients are new mothers. I can’t count how many sessions I’ve sat with a new mom with a baby on her lap (who is busy breastfeeding or napping). These sessions are a wonderful experience for me because I absolutely LOVE babies, but unfortunately, for my client, are often rough because new mom is sleep-deprived, overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby, unable to have time for herself and usually depressed and/or highly anxious. Many new moms feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster for good reason- they are!
And while babies are really darn cute and incredibly lovable, being a new parent is also extremely stressful, regardless of how much you were looking forward to the new addition to your family. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, one of the results is often feeling a bit low emotionally. And the majority of women with newborns often have what is commonly referred to as “the baby blues” which often dissipate a few weeks after baby is born.
It is believed these ‘blues’ are caused by hormonal changes that occur following birth. Symptoms include: moodiness, sadness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, appetite changes, and concentration problems. No professional help is needed for “the baby blues”- you just need to get lots of rest as well as loving support from your partner and friends/family.
However, if these blues continue after that period of time, or they are severe, you may be dealing with Postpartum Depression which is more serious and requires professional help to overcome successfully.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
- Lack of interest in your baby
- Negative feelings towards your baby
- Worrying about hurting your baby
- Lack of concern for yourself
- Loss of pleasure
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Women with a previous history of depression are at an increased risk of experiencing postpartum depression. Your risk is also elevated if you have a history of severe PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, if the pregnancy was unplanned, or if you had postpartum depression following a previous pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women with a prior history of postpartum depression have a 50% chance of recurrence.
The good news is that with professional help, Postpartum Depression can be successfully treated with the same types of treatment as regular depression. Psychotherapy is the preferred method of treatment because it has been proven highly effective and doesn’t require one to take medications which can harm the baby while breastfeeding.
Support groups where women who are all going through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful as well. Look for a group offered by mental health professionals in your local community or else join an Online Postpartum depression support group.
In BC, you can check out Pacific Postpartum Support Society. They offer a variety of services, including telephone support. Click here for information on PPPSS’s support groups.