Postpartum depression and other mood disorders can negatively impact mother, child, and family.
When is it wise to seek help?
You may have heard the term "The Baby Blues" before. In fact, 75-80% of new mothers experience "the blues." The causes range from a drop in hormonal levels post-birth to social or environment issues (lack of sleep, marital concerns, lack of support, stress) to the physical recovery process after birth. Telltale symptoms may include:
Beyond the Baby Blues
So, what are some signs that you may have a more serious postpartum mood condition such as postpartum depression (10-20% of PP women), anxiety/OCD (3-10% of PP women), or psychosis (very rare: 1-2 per 1,000 births)? In addition to the above symptoms being present and not naturally subsiding within a few weeks, symptoms of further PPMD that require attention may include:
Have an Action Plan
Tune in to how you are feeling. A wonderful tool called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) exists to help mothers assess if they have a PPMD that requires additional attention. You can find a copy HERE. As the assessment states, regardless of your score, you should always contact your health care provider if you feel you are experiencing signs of a PPMD.
Enlist the help of others. Partners and other family members or friends who regularly interact with the postpartum mother are extremely valuable in noticing if she is experiencing difficulties beyond the blues. Postpartum Progress provides some great tips for supporting someone who has a PPMD. The support of your partner and others who love you is an important piece of your action plan.
Plan ahead. Just like we prepare for the marriage in addition to the wedding, we should plan ahead for postpartum in addition to the birth. If you are local, Flutterby has compiled a Twin Cities Resource Guide to help you get started, which includes mental health professionals, postpartum doulas, and more! Additionally, Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota is a wonderfully comprehensive resource for finding professional assistance, guidances, and tips for postpartum concerns. If you are not living in the Twin Cities/Minnesota area, Postpartum Support International is a great option. You can also find a few more tips on our blog post, "8 Steps to a Great Postpartum."
911 is There in Case of an Emergency
No one will judge you or think you are being "overdramatic" if you feel you need to call 911 for help (or head to the emergency room). When in doubt, call (or go). Better safe than sorry, especially if you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. Postpartum Progress has a post all about the symptoms of postpartum psychosis, which though rare, can quite literally be deadly.
Remember: It is never too early (or too late!!) to seek help. If you feel that you cannot do it yourself, please reach out to Flutterby or your other trusted sources, and we are more than happy to personally connect you with professional resources. The postpartum period is a tender time, and too many mothers suffer in silence. Support is available!
Erin Stertz-Follett, Owner