Having a baby is supposed to be a joyful moment in a new mom’s life, however, this is not always true. It can also be one of the most stressful times of a woman’s life as well. I mean think about it: your hormones are fluctuating, your body is going through major changes, you may have had a C-section which is major surgery, and you are being sent home with an actual small human being! It is very emotionally and physically demanding. It is no wonder that up to 85% of new moms experience postpartum blues or baby blues.
New moms may experience anxiety, crying, and restlessness that fortunately resolves after two weeks when hormones level out. If symptoms last more than two weeks, then mom may have postpartum depression. The symptoms include anxiety, sadness, anger, irritability, difficulty sleepy and intrusive thoughts like harming the baby or themselves. One in five women will experience postpartum depression. Women who have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression before getting pregnant are at higher risk of developing postpartum depression. While baby blues and postpartum depression are common, only 0.1% of women will experience postpartum psychosis. This number increases to 30% in moms who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Symptoms of psychosis include delusions or strange beliefs, hallucinations, irritability, paranoia, and rapid mood swings. It’s important to not ignore these symptoms and to seek immediate medical attention because of the risk of suicide and homicide.
Having a postpartum mood disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Often mothers experience guilt and shame because their mood overshadows the joy of motherhood. It is a stressful and joyous moment but recognizing the symptoms and seeking help is essential. Use your support system, get sleep and take care of yourself. A happy, healthy mother means a healthy happy baby.