The talk of the town this week is the tragic story of a young American woman who threw her baby out of a car window and then attempted suicide herself.
The baby unfortunately did not survive, the woman is now left wondering what in the world happened? The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect – depression. Most new mums experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.
But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.
Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.
Baby blues symptoms
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
- Trouble sleeping
Postpartum depression symptoms
Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first – but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier – during pregnancy – or later – up to a year or more after birth.
Postpartum depression signs and 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
Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.
With postpartum psychosis – a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery – the signs and symptoms are severe.
Signs and symptoms may include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive energy and agitation
- Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.
Postpartum depression in new fathers
Yes …new fathers can experience postpartum depression, too! They may feel sad or fatigued, be overwhelmed, experience anxiety, or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns – the same symptoms mothers with postpartum depression experience. Fathers who are young, have a history of depression, experience relationship problems or are struggling financially are most at risk of postpartum depression.
When to see a doctor
If you’re feeling depressed after your baby’s birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum psychosis, get help immediately.
It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Helping a friend or loved one
People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they’re depressed. They may not be aware of signs and symptoms of depression. If you suspect that a friend or loved one has postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, help them seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement.
Any new mom can experience postpartum depression and it can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first.
However, your risk increases if:
- You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
- You have bipolar disorder
- You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
- You have family members who’ve had depression or other mood disorders
- You’ve experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
- Your baby has health problems or other special needs
- You have twins, triplets or other multiple births
- You have difficulty breast-feeding
- You’re having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
- You have a weak support system
- You have financial problems
Never be ashamed to put up your hand for help. YOU ARE NOT A BAD PARENT and you are not alone ☺
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Copyright © 2020 Kim Patra
You can read all past articles of Paradise…in Sickness & in Health at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz