The following is a guest post by Valerie Johnston, a health and fitness writer for Healthline.com. Here she shares about the significant differences between baby blues and postpartum depression, and a few simple ideas for overcoming them.
New moms have to juggle a number of different things when they bring their babies home from the hospital. Learning how to care for a new baby is a tough enough task on its own, without accounting for the other stresses that motherhood can bring. Additionally, all the hours spent caring for the baby in the middle of the night can easily wear down a new mom. Suddenly even small stresses turn into an overwhelming situation that seems impossible to handle. A little added stress and anxiety is normal, but any mom who is suffering from more serious symptoms may actually be suffering from postpartum depression.
What is Postpartum Depression, and how is it Different than the Baby Blues?
Women who have just given birth will have some extreme emotions while their hormones are stabilizing. However, women who experience extreme feelings of sadness, anxiety or fear more than a week after giving birth may in fact be suffering from postpartum depression, and not just a case of the baby blues.
Postpartum depression is a sustained depression brought on by the changes in a woman’s hormone levels after giving birth. The symptoms are very serious, and the worst cases can put both the mom and baby at risk. The biggest difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues is that the latter will typically go away on its own after a few days, while the former will require ongoing treatment and possibly even medication. It is relatively uncommon, affecting only 13 percent of new moms. The problem can occur after any pregnancy, even if a mom has not had any issues with postpartum depression in any of her previous pregnancies.
Recognizing Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
If a new mom seems to be experiencing more serious symptoms of stress and anxiety, it could be postpartum depression. The symptoms should be ongoing, and typically begin to present one to three weeks after giving birth. Many of the symptoms mimic the symptoms of depression, so doctors will frequently use a similar set of criteria to diagnose it. Common symptoms include anger, anxiety, fear, thoughts of suicide, and extreme emotions of sadness. Moms may irrationally doubt and second-guess their parenting skills or even develop thoughts of violent acts toward their babies, as is common with the more serious problem of postpartum psychosis.
Coping with the Stress of Being a New Mom
Every mom will find that a new baby leads to some added and unexpected stress, either from lack of sleep, added expenses, reduced income, or any number of factors that are common to being a new mom. With all these stresses, it is no wonder that new moms sometimes feel overwhelmed, even if they aren’t suffering from postpartum depression. One of the best solutions for these feelings is a quick break. Leaving your baby for the first time isn’t easy, but it can give you a chance to recharge your batteries or get some much needed rest.
Many new moms spend so much time worrying about their new baby that they forget to think about their own needs. Sometimes all a woman needs is a few hours of sleep to make her stress melt away. Taking a night off to spend with your husband or a group of friends is another way to help make you forget about the stress of being a new parent.
Another great way to boost your mood is exercise, which will also have the added benefit of helping you lose your extra baby weight. Many women may also find it comforting to talk to other parents about the anxieties they are having. Being comforted by someone who has been through the process of raising a baby before can be a great way to shake some of the fears and negative emotions common to being a new mom.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.
For more information about the baby blues and postpartum depression, check out this Birth a Miracle Services post, here.