Maternal Mental Health

Is This Postpartum Depression? What it is & ways to cope

Postpartum depression sucks. First, you’re handed a squirming small human being, and then informed that you’re the most important thing in their life. Your body’s been through hell and you still have to wake up nights, change a million diapers, and play host to the throngs of visiting relatives.

Or maybe your baby is 6 months old. And you just don’t feel anything for it. Other mothers claim this overwhelming, life-changing sense of love, and you’re left holding a baby and just feeling guilty. Sure, you take care of him — mechanically — but there’s no joy in it. There’s no sense of reward. There’s just a sure and certain knowledge that this is your life now, so you better learn to live it.

Postpartum depression (also known as PPD) is when a mother suffers from depression after childbirth; sometimes this depression starts in pregnancy as well and intensifies after childbirth. This can last anywhere from 3months postpartum until a little after baby’s first year of life.

It’s important to note that the signs of postpartum depression can mirror the signs baby blues, but they are not the same. Baby blues are extremely common and experienced by 50% of new mothers. They also are extremely short lived ; often dissipating after 2 weeks.

Roughly 10-15% of postpartum mothers deal with severity of post partum depression. I am in that 10-15%; here we’ll discuss how to recognize it and cope to heal.

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

Causes for postpartum depression differ and vary depending on each person. Here are some common causes:

  • Financial hardships
  • Trying to live up to unrealistic standards as a new mother
  • Lack of a strong support system
  • Hormone changes after childbirth
  • The strain of meeting your child’s needs and properly being able to care for them
  • Big changes such as adjusting to a new job, death of a loved one, transitioning from a job to being at home or a change in relationships
  • Inability to have enough time for yourself for womanhood-motherhood balance.
  • An extension of antepartum depression

Symptoms

A mom parent with PPD will often start to experience symptoms within the first month of having a child. However, symptoms can develop any time in the first 12 months, e.g. after four or six months.

Postpartum depression has many signs that indicate you may have more than just baby blues. These are the most common signs found in mothers with PDD. Please note that you may still have PPD even if you are not experiencing all of these symptoms.

One mother may experience a couple of these symptoms more intensely, while another mother may experience a mild case of them all:

  • Persistent low mood; this may take the form of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, irritability, frustration, anger, a feeling of being overwhelmed, or other negative emotions
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable, including sex
  • Strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Tiredness and lack of energy and motivation
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Memory problems
  • Overwhelming worry or anxiety
  • Restlessness or trouble sitting still
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Persistent headaches, other pains, or digestive trouble without a clear physical trigger
  • Recurring thoughts of causing harm to yourself or baby. If a person shows signs of crisis – obvious indicators that they are strongly affected by depression or at risk of suicide – it is important to call a doctor, emergency services provider or suicide prevention line without delay.

Risk Factors

While PPD is often attributed to hormonal changes, these are strongest factors in making moms more susceptible to experiencing PPD:

  • A personal or family history of mental health conditions, e.g. depression or bipolar disorder
  • Lack of social support, i.e. friends and family
  • A poor relationship with one’s partner
  • Significant stress or major life events, e.g. death of a loved one or a major move, during or after the pregnancy

Other risk factors may include:

  • The pregnancy being unplanned
  • Being unemployed
  • Not breastfeeding
  • A complicated birth
  • The baby having health challenges or special needs
  • Thyroid problems during pregnancy
  • Experiencing other health challenges during or after the pregnancy
  • One’s partner being depressed
  • Moms of multiples

Ways to Cope

Admit you have PPD

This includes recognizing the signs and symptoms in yourself, and that can be hard to do. But once you have, you can go to a doctor. There may be therapy or medications that can help you.

Mostly, you need to tell those around you, dont make the mistake of suffering silently: tell your family, colleagues, tell moms at the playdate you drag yourself to. Tell them that you are suffering from postpartum depression. I promise you’ll feel less alone.

Many of them will offer to help; take them up on it. Random friend offers to clean your kitchen? It’s not weak to say yes.

Identify what you need- time away from the baby, a babysitter for your therapy appointment, a clean sink and make your needs known.

Our tribe is also available to assist with our self care as they can.

Remind yourself a million times: these people really do want to help. This isn’t pity. It’s caring.

Realize that you are not alone. Build a support network

It’s likely that people will tell you their own stories of PPD. But you need more than that. Connect with moms on online, in local mom groups or on forums, who are going through the same thing you are.

You need to know deep down that this isn’t your fault, that it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby, and that it doesn’t mean you’re “crazy.”

Let the housework go.

You’re suffering from a serious mental illness. If you were suffering from a physical illness, we wouldn’t expect you to scrub the house down. As long as rodents and bugs aren’t invading, you’re good. Put the clothes in baskets rather than drawers. Rely on quick meals. Your house does not have to be mother-in-law ready.

If your partner expects you to do it all, now is the time to point-blank tell them to step it up. If you can’t manage to tell them, just show them this essay instead.

Skin-to-skin contact

Regardless of whether you breast-feed or formula feed your baby, try doing so while their bare skin is against your own. If the room is cool, wrap a blanket around your baby’s back to keep them warm. You can also cradle your baby skin-to-skin.

Skin-to-skin contact relaxes both you and your baby, as well as enhances the bond between you. Other benefits of skin-to-skin contact include prolonged periods of sleep and alertness, less cold, improved weight gain, better brain development, decreased crying, and an earlier discharge from the hospital.

Eat omega-3.

Consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish such as herring and salmon, during pregnancy may lower the risk of postpartum depression. It may also serve as alternative treatment for postpartum depression.

Nap

Sleep when the baby sleeps” is a phrase often used by those giving new parents advice — advice that parents usually roll their eyes at (including myself). Lets face it, getting any form of sleep while looking after a newborn is a hard task.

Women living with postpartum depression however, often take long to fall asleep and sleep for less time than those without the condition. Moreover, the lower the quality of their sleep, the more severe their depression often is.

If you have family or friends who can look after your baby while you take a nap, be sure to enlist their help.

Get out in the sunshine and introduce a fitness routine

Exposure to sunlight and fresh air will significantly improve your mood. Even if your hair is a mess or your baby has spit up on your favorite pair of yoga pants, take the stroller for a spin and aim to get outside for at least for at least 10–15 minutes each day.

Studies have demonstrated that physical activity might help to combat postpartum depression. Exercising during the postpartum period is an efficient way to achieve better psychological well-being as well as ease the symptoms of postpartum depression.

You can begin gentle exercise just a few days after birth if you have had a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated vaginal delivery. If you have had complications or a cesarean delivery, ask your doctor for advice on when you can begin exercise.

Walking is a good starting point, with the added bonus of being able to push your stroller at the same time. Aim to be active for around 20–30 minutes per day. Even exercising for 10 minutes can benefit your body.

Try psychotherapy and medication

If you have tried self-help, made lifestyle changes, and sought support but have experienced no improvement, your doctor may suggest that you try medication, psychotherapy, or both.

  • Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, can help you to discuss your concerns and feelings, set goals that are manageable, and learn to respond to situations positively.
  • Antidepressants may be recommended if your depression is severe or when other treatments have not improved your symptoms. Your doctor will take that into account if you are breast-feeding when prescribing your medication.

Ultimately remember- experiencing postpartum is nobody’s fault. It is a medical condition that requires treatment. You are not alone. Postpartum depression can make the already stressful period immediately following childbirth even more difficult. The sooner you can get help with managing your depression, the sooner you can begin to enjoy your baby and motherhood.

Happy Healing!

19 thoughts on “Is This Postpartum Depression? What it is & ways to cope”

  1. What a in-depth and well researched post! This is so important to raise awareness about PPD. It is too common and too often ignored. Keep spreading awareness!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this post. I feel like this is too often looked over as just new moms being tired from no sleep. I love the way you differentiated between all the signs and symptoms!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just also note this discusses the difference between baby blues and PPD. Baby blues lasts about 2 weeks max; PPD is more severe and is a medical diagnosis. If you really struggled for a bit you most likely had PPD. I am glad this is reaching people so they know the signs to look for so they can seek help

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! I was one who thought I had baby blues and it was full blown PPD and I didnt know what the next step was. I am glad people are finding this so informative!

      Like

  3. This post was super informative. My little sister went through PPD & we didn’t even realize what was going on at first. Thank you for sharing insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that there’s more info about PPD coming out. People can be so negative upon hearing a mother’s response to coming into the role of motherhood. You never know what another moms journey is, but I’m glad PPD is being talked about continuously.

    Angel | Mommy-ing Differently

    Like

    1. Sending you love and strength its def a tough time! I am so glad this article was helpful to you and I pray you have the support you need to push through. It def a season that will surely pass

      Like

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I love that you acknowledged that moms with PPD can really struggle with quality sleep, and the lack of sleep can make the PPD so much worse. When I had PPD I also had undiagnosed sleep apnea, so I was running on essentially no sleep, and I dealt with what I now believe was a short period of psychosis. I’m so grateful for medical experts and medications, and I’m doing much better now!

    Liked by 1 person

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