Feeling Down After Your Baby's Birth
Approximately 10 to 20 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), a type of clinical depression that can affect women after they give birth. If you have concerns about the way you feel after giving birth, talk to your doctor. Although PPD usually starts within the first three months after giving birth, it also can surface at any time during the first postpartum year. Symptoms of postpartum depression can be severe and could affect the way you take care of yourself and your family. You may have PPD if you:
- Have excessive anxiety.
- Feel sad much of the time.
- Are unable to concentrate or think clearly.
- Have insomnia, which can mean that you have trouble falling asleep or trouble sleeping through the night.
- Feel irritable or angry, sometimes for no reason, much of the time.
- Don’t feel hungry and are losing weight too fast, or you are often hungry and are gaining weight you don’t need or want.
- Are having scary thoughts.
- Find yourself obsessing or worrying all the time.
- Feel guilty about everything.
Take it Easy
Don't try to be a "superwoman" after you give birth. Let others help you. Here are some tips to help reduce feelings of PPD:
- Arrange for frequent rest periods.
- Arrange for uninterrupted time with your partner if possible.
- Take the time to take a shower, wash your hair and get dressed every day to help yourself feel good.
- Look for a reliable baby sitter so you can get away from the house even for an hour.
- Talk to your partner about your feelings and concerns.
- Avoid taking on too much. Just be a mother for several weeks until you adjust.
- If the house is getting dirty, don’t exhaust yourself by trying to keep it clean. Ask a friend or relative to help. How your house looks is not that important, and however it looks is only temporary.
- Prioritize your activities. Holding and bonding with your baby is of primary importance.
- Take shortcuts and enjoy them. Order food in, use foods from the freezer or have friends bring over meals.
If you believe you have postpartum depression, talk to family members and your partner about it and ask them to help you by - giving you breaks, preparing food, doing housecleaning and listening to your concerns. The next step is to call your doctor and ask him or her for guidance and a possible referral to a mental health professional. Remember that PPD is common and most women who have had it get through it without being a danger to themselves or others. It may simply mean you are overwhelmed and need some extra support. However, if you, your partner or your doctor is concerned that you could harm yourself or others, by all means begin some form of treatment. There is no shame in seeking and getting help.