Feelings of overwhelm, mood swings, weepiness, anxiety, and/or sadness are extremely common in the days immediately following childbirth as the mother's body adjusts from a pregnant to a non-pregnant state. These feelings are often called the "baby blues" and will generally pass within the first 2-3 weeks after birth. Up to 80 percent of women will likely experience these feelings. Most women report open communication with a friend or family member as the most effective form of assistance as they transition into their new role and their bodies adjust.
The onset of postpartum depression, (PPD), and/or postpartum anxiety is a much more serious condition that may require behavioral therapy and even medications in order to feel like oneself again. Powerful Mamas wants to spread the word that women CAN feel better - there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel! However, we must work as a community to bring light to this common condition so that sufferers and their families feel comfortable seeking and finding the help they deserve. Perinatal mood disorders are treatable, but help begins with a conversation. If you are suffering from PPD or postpartum anxiety and you aren't getting the help you need, keep asking until you find it. You, your family, and your baby deserve to feel better!
Jill Thomas, a licensed mental health therapist with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Des Moines, Iowa, works with those struggling with PPD and anxiety during and after pregnancy.
Common warning signs include:
* Struggles with eating and sleeping
* Not feeling like oneself
* Scary, persistent thoughts, (such as dropping the baby, or the baby is not breathing)
* Disruptions in eating or sleeping patterns
* Disinterest in activities one used to enjoy
* Lack of motivation for basic hygiene, dressing, etc.
* Feeling numb, empty or slow
* Obsessive compulsive feelings or tendencies
* Trouble bonding with the baby
Risk factors do not mean a woman will develop a perinatal mood disorder, but can help one prepare if they think they might be at risk. Such factors include: a struggle with depression or anxiety prior to becoming pregnant, a family history of mood disorders, a traumatic birth experience, a high-needs baby, perfectionist tendencies, or even abrupt weaning of the baby.
For those who may be struggling with a perinatal mood disorder, the most important thing you can do to help yourself is tell someone! Thomas says many women tend to carry the shame of PPD/anxiety with them, but that these feelings, (in part caused by the way hormones and the brain are functioning postpartum), are NOT YOUR FAULT, and may be out of your control.
Watch our full interview with Jill Thomas here to learn more, including helpful resources available both locally and nationally. We ask that you share this post, so we can help spread the word that there is hope for those struggling with these treatable but serious conditions.
With love and light,