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It's not just the "Baby Blues"

When it's more than the  baby blues.png

So, as a therapist who works with postpartum moms, I cringe a little when I hear a comment like "That mom just has a case of the blues." Okay, if I'm being completely honest, I do a whole lot more than cringe....I get pretty mad! And here is why...

The baby blues and postpartum depression are two completely different things!

When you tell a mom who is suffering with postpartum depression that she has "the blues" it minimizes her experience. It can also prevent her from reaching out and getting the help she desperately needs. When you tell a mom "It's only the blues", she hears "suck it up, all moms go through this." And she thinks, "What's wrong with me that I can't handle this?"

Okay, I will get off my soap box now. Promise.

So what, then, are the baby blues?

Good question!

The baby blues are very real and impact 80% of new moms. Typically a new mom will start to experience symptoms a week or so after delivery. Symptoms include: tearfulness, irritability, anxiety,  and feeling overwhelmed. A new mom may feel this way for 2-3 weeks and then the symptoms self-resolve, they go away on their own.

So, how is that different than postpartum depression?

Another good question!

Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 new moms. It is the most common complication of childbirth! Symptoms most often start 2-3 weeks following delivery, and peak around month 2 or 3. However, symptoms of postpartum depression can start anytime within the first year after having a baby. Common symptoms include feeling sad, crying, loss of appetite, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, anger or irritability.

The good news? With help these conditions are very treatable. The quicker the symptoms are addressed, the quicker the new mom will feel better. If someone you know is suffering through postpartum depression, encourage them to talk to their doctor or see a therapist who has specialized training in maternal mental health. There are also local support groups that a mom can attend.  A great resource to find help in your area is Postpartum Support International.

If you know a new mom that is struggling, tell her that she does not need to suffer in silence! She is not alone, and with help she will get better! 

Read other posts about this topic here.

Is postpartum depression preventable?

photo credit: pixaby

Here is the truth... postpartum depression is not always completely preventable. However, there are steps that you can take to help minimize your risk. I was recently interviewed by Romper.com and provided several tips on how to be proactive and implement some self-care strategies that can make those first few weeks of being a new parent a little more manageable. 

Three areas to focus on to help minimize your risk of postpartum depression and anxiety are support, resources, and sleep.

I like to remind moms that it takes a village, and you need to identify who is in your village. 

 Who are the people you can talk to about anything without feeling judged? The ones you can call at any hour of the day if you are struggling. Who are the people that can watch the baby for an hour or two so you can get some rest? Don’t be afraid to call upon your village and ask for help. It can also be helpful to come up with a list of things that people can do to help you, so you are prepared when they offer you assistance.

You don't have to, and you shouldn't, do this alone! What supports can you put into place before your baby is born? For example, you can set up a Meal train calendar to help organize who will bring food when you are taking care of your new baby. 

And don't forget about sleep! Can someone else, a partner or postpartum doula/night nurse, take the first baby feeding of the night so that mom can get a solid block of uninterrupted sleep?

For more tips, and to read the article in its entirety, please visit romper.com.

Hopefully, by being proactive you can reduce your risk of PPD and make life feel a tiny bit more manageable when your baby arrives. But if you do experience depression and/or anxiety, don't be afraid to ask for help. You will be an amazing mom... just remember you do not have to do it on your own!