Is it More Than Baby Blues?
You’re expecting a new baby! Everyone is excited, and you can’t wait to bring the little bundle of joy home. But some women felt nervous, anxious or even scared when they get the baby home. I remember not wanting to leave the hospital because I was afraid I wouldn’t put my son in the car seat the right way. I also remember feeling so upset because I couldn’t calm him down--he kept crying even after the checklist was completed. Bottle: check, diaper: check, clothing/blankets: check, check. Yes, a baby changes everything and it can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. The stress, anxiety, fear, sleep deprivation, utter exhaustion and a host of other factors can leave any parent feeling not quite themselves—or even downright blue.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), baby blues occurs about 2-3 days after giving birth. Some signs and symptoms of baby blues among women include feeling depressed, anxious, or angry with family members, the new baby and other children. New moms can also cry for no reason, have disruptions in their sleeping, eating and decision making, and may question whether they can handle caring for a baby. Luckily, these feelings usually fade within a week or two without any treatment (reference 1).
When is it more than baby blues? Women who experience intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, despair, guilt or a disconnection from caring for the baby or themselves may be experiencing postpartum depression. ACOG states that this can occur within the first few weeks after childbirth all the way up to a year afterward. There are several factors that may trigger postpartum depression, like changes in hormone levels, a history of depression and emotional issues, fatigue, lack of support or stress (reference 2).
If you, a loved one, partner or someone you know is exhibiting any of these symptoms, talk it over with your OB-GYN or other health care professional immediately. Don’t wait for the postpartum checkup. This condition can be treated with medication and talk therapy. If you do have a history of depression or previous postpartum depression, be sure to mention this early on in your prenatal care so that you have a care plan in place. There are so many tools and resources available--you do not have to suffer through this condition alone. Educate yourself and family. It is more prevalent than you may think, and it is also treatable (reference 3).
The following websites offer great resources and support:
- National Women’s Health Information Center
- Medline Plus
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Marie - MPH, RD, LD, CDCES
Certified Wellness Coach, UMR Care Management Services, UnitedHealth Group