The birth of a child is a wondrous and glorious thing. However, for some bringing your newborn home and being responsible for keeping your baby alive on zero sleep for weeks and weeks can be daunting to say the least. Add to this already trying scenario is the hormonal cocktail the new mother is living with and it’s easy to understand why some new mothers don’t feel so blissful.

While it’s normal for every new mother to feel some stress and irritability in the weeks after giving birth, it is estimated that  9 to16 percent of moms, through no fault of their own, will experience postpartum depression (PPD). That is to say, motherhood issues are not uncommon.

What makes some women more susceptible to PPD than others? It is believed that a combination of things including hormones, genetics, predisposition, support (or lack of) and stress all may contribute to a perfect storm of experiencing PPD.

As if experiencing PPD isn’t hard enough, there are actually a few myths surrounding the condition that can make a new mother feel even worse. Let’s dispel those myths right now:

Myth #1: PPD starts after a woman has given birth.

PPD can actually start while a woman is still pregnant. In fact, it is believed that in 50% of moms experiencing PPD, the symptoms began during pregnancy.

Myth #2: PPD starts immediately after giving birth.

In those instances where PPD does begin after a new mother has given birth, it is not uncommon for symptoms to begin well beyond the first four weeks. This can often take the new mother by surprise.

Myth #3: PPD is the only postpartum illness a new mother may experience.

The truth is, there is an entire collection of postpartum illnesses besides PPD that a woman may experience such as postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, and rarely, but sometimes postpartum psychosis. These are all challenging disorders new moms may experience.

Now let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms of PPD so you know what to be aware of.

  • Guilt – You may feel like you should be handling the situation better. Many women can feel worthless in the role of new mother.
  • You Can’t be Comforted – With baby blues, mothers feel overwhelmed but can be comforted by encouraging words from their partner or loved ones. But with PPD, reassurance often feels like a lie.
  • You Fantasize About Escaping – While many new moms think about wanting to just get away for a week or two to get some rest and feel human again, women experiencing PPD symptoms often fantasize about leaving and never returning because they think their families will be better off. NOTE: If you have thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek help immediately.
  • You’re Angry and Irritable – Many new moms experiencing PPD may snap at their partner, at the baby, at the dog. They may no longer feel in control of their own emotions.

Not every woman will experience every symptom. But if you are experiencing any of these it’s important that you get help. PPD is very treatable, so it’s important that you recognize the signs, understand that you’re not a bad mother,  and reach out for the help you need.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with us. Sarah O’Donnell, LISW, PMH-C, specializes in helping women through these and similar issues. We’d be happy to discuss how she may be able to help you during this time.

SOURCES:

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