Having a baby is to supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life. But what if it isn't?
If you've recently had a baby and aren't feeling like yourself, you're not alone. As many as 15 to 20% of new moms experience changes in mood that make taking care themselves and their new babies a struggle. Bringing a new baby home-whether it's your first or your third child-will naturally create some upheaval and stress, even in the best of circumstances. But if you're noticing significant changes in your mood past the first several weeks postpartum, it could be more than the “baby blues”.
Postpartum depression and anxiety is experienced differently for every woman, but here are some good things to know:
You're Not Alone: Postpartum Depression and Anxiety is Common
One of the things I make sure new moms know is that postpartum depression and anxiety is one of the most common complications of delivering a baby. They're often surprised and relieved, because they feel so alone in their experience. It can seem like every new mom is so together, handling new motherhood with confidence and joy. But appearances can be deceiving, as many women struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety are really good at masking what they're going through.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Don't Discriminate
Any woman can be susceptible to postpartum depression and anxiety, regardless of age, income, ethnicity, how much support you have in your life, or how well your pregnancy and delivery went. According to the American Psychological Association, for half of women diagnosed with postpartum depression, it's their first depressive episode. It's common to hear new moms say that it doesn't make sense that they're experiencing problems with mood and anxiety when things in their lives are going well. This confusion can fuel guilt and cause women to stay quiet about what they're going through, ultimately preventing them from getting help.
Having Postpartum Depression Doesn't Mean You're a Bad Mom
Depression and anxiety can make just getting through the day exhausting-emotionally and physically. Many women feel wracked with guilt when they have thoughts and feelings about their babies and motherhood that aren't happy ones. Postpartum depression is treatable, and with support you can feel better. Reaching out for help from family and friends, support groups, or seeking therapy is important. Postpartum depression doesn't usually just go away on it's own. Understanding what you're going through and that it isn't your fault is an important part of finding your way back to feeling more like yourself and living a healthy, happy life with your new baby.
If you or a mom in your life is struggling with the adjustment to motherhood, getting informed is a good first step to take. To learn more, here are some good resources:
Postpartum Support International
American Psychological Association