Postpartum Depression Support
After childbirth, women experience many kinds of feelings... from joy that
the baby is healthy and well to feeling weepy, sad, overcome and overwhelmed.
No matter how well mothers are prepared for their new role, they may worry
that there is something wrong with them for having these mixed feelings.
At least one in ten new mothers experience various degrees of postpartum
depression. Adolescent mothers have twice the risk.
Why do they feel this way?
There are several possible reasons. The time after the birth of a child
is a time of enormous change in a woman’s life – socially,
psychologically and physically. These changes place many demands on the
new mother and her family. New mothers may be tired and strained; taking
care of a newborn is a hard job.
One fact is clear: postpartum distress is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy
in the mother and symptoms are temporary when treated with skilled professional
help and support.
The Baby Blues
This is by far the most common form of emotional reaction in the postpartum
period, affecting up to 70 percent of all new mothers. Symptoms include
crying for no apparent reason, intolerance, irritability, restlessness
and anxiety. These symptoms usually appear two to five days after delivery.
The baby blues rarely last more than two to three weeks and usually disappear
on their own.If the feelings persist, a woman may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Symptoms vary from mild to severe; one day may be “good” and
others “bad.” Some signs are:
- Anxiety and panic
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Appetite and/or sleep disturbances
- Poor concentration with confusion and memory loss
- Overconcern for the baby or lack of interest in the baby
- Uncontrollable crying and irritability
- Feelings of guilt, inadequacy or inability to cope
- Fear of hurting the baby and/or herself
- Loss of interest in sex
Usually these symptoms begin within six weeks after delivery. However,
they can emerge gradually and may take up to a year to be recognized as
postpartum depression. Although all women don’t have the same symptoms,
all of them can be scary and out of character for the woman experiencing
them. Often women feel ashamed, guilty and isolated with these feelings.
This is an extremely rare disorder, occurring only in one out of 1,000
new mothers and usually within four weeks of delivery. Symptoms are severe
and may include hallucinations, insomnia, agitation and bizarre feelings
or behavior. Postpartum psychosis is a serious
medical emergency requiring immediate medical help.
It is important to take concerns and questions to a physician or midwife
or call the Behavioral Health Central Access Number for assistance. If
you or someone you know is experiencing these feelings, we can help.
The Postpartum Wellness Program was developed by Behavioral Health Services
at Saint Clare’s to provide understanding, treatment and support
for both you and your family. The program offers these services:
- Crisis intervention
- Assessment, diagnosis and care planning by a team of highly skilled behavioral
- Education for women and their families
- Individual, family and group therapy, according to need
- Ongoing support groups for women with postpartum distress
For help, please call Behavioral Health Central Access at Saint Clare’s:
(888) 626-2111. A qualified counselor will assess your needs and link
you to the Postpartum Wellness team.