Pregnancy and new motherhood bring with them significant changes in women’s lives, but also their bodies and minds. For one in eight women, the changes that occur in our bodies after delivering a baby can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, emptiness, extreme exhaustion and/or hopelessness which can make it difficult to care for themselves or others. This is postpartum depression and it is a treatable condition.
Symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
- Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Experiencing anger or rage
- Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
- Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
- Eating too little or too much
- Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
- Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
- Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
- Thinking about harming herself or her baby.
Many women will not recognize these are the signs of a problem, or they may be reluctant to share these feelings because they think new motherhood is a time that they should feel only joy. Women may even experience embarrassment, shame, or guilt about these feelings; they may be afraid to share them for fear of being thought of as a bad mother. However, any mother can experience postpartum depression. It is a very common condition that is successfully treated every day. It is important for women feeling these symptoms to call their doctor, midwife, or nurse right away to start a treatment that will help both them and their babies.
The doctors and midwives at Women’s Care in OB/GYN actively screen women during and after their pregnancies so that we can identify our patients at risk and treat women as early as possible. We appreciate our local PBS station WMHT for its recent program highlighting this important topic.
Women’s Care especially applauds the work of Suzanne Nelson, who is profiled in the program. She identified the need for more resources in our community and developed Shades of Light – a program that provides additional support and resources for women in our region suffering from postpartum depression.