How does postpartum impact new mothers?

One of the most vulnerable populations are those of new parents. It is also no secret among women that issues that crop up during pregnancy or postpartum are often overlooked by medical professionals. After multiple appointments throughout pregnancy to check the health of the mother and baby, only one appointment six weeks after delivery is offered to women postpartum. That is not nearly enough time to adequately assess how the mother (or parents in general) are doing with this major life transition. 

Postpartum anxiety or depression is common among new mothers (and fathers) in the first year of their baby’s life. In this blog, we will define each, and talk about steps you can take to get the help you need, and return to your recognizable self.

Postpartum Depression

Different from the “baby blues”, which is an acute reaction to the overwhelming adjustment of parenthood after birth, PPD is longer lasting and has symptoms that are more moderate to severe. Symptoms of PPD include:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Finding little pleasure in things you normally like to do
  • Feeling fatigued all the time
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive worry
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Intense irritability or anger
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or baby
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) is also different from the baby blues, and presents for a longer period of time, with more intense and severe symptoms. Those include: 

  • Excessive worries or feelings of dread
  • Feeling trapped in racing or obsessive thoughts
  • Obsessive thoughts that are sometimes accompanied by compulsions (i.e. checking if the baby is breathing constantly)
  • Irritability or anger
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Nausea 
  • Fatigue

You may be at higher risk for developing PPD or PPA if you have struggled with mental health before or during pregnancy, you have complications during pregnancy or childbirth, are facing adverse situations like low income, unemployment, separation from a partner, death of a loved one, or little support. We also can’t forget how lack of sleep plays a large role in our ability to function and cope adequately. 

For new parents, these conditions can be agonizing. In a time that is often expressed by society to be full of joy and love, many parents wonder why they are unable to achieve that same feeling. If you think you may be struggling with PPA or PPD, here are some considerations:

  • Seek support through talk therapy. Therapy has never been more accessible with the implementation of telehealth. For new parents who need flexibility to meet during or in between naps, breastfeed while in a session or want to stay in the comfort of their own home during their parental leave has never been easier. Talk therapy is a great place for a new parent to seek support in this life change and develop coping skills and strategies. Therapists can also help assess if a higher level of care or support is needed.
  • Group therapy support is wonderful for first time parents. Parents can build their community and share experiences and coping skills to weather the most challenging parts of this new transition. 
  • Medication assistance–Sometimes PPD and PPA are so challenging to wrangle alone, that medication can be the jump start a person needs to get back on track. There are psychiatrists who specialize in perinatal pharmacology and are incredible resources for medication while pregnant or postpartum. 

At Boshardy Counseling & Consulting, we want to help support you in every life transition. We have multiple therapists on staff who are parents themselves, and have extensive experience in supportin

Contact Us Today at 217.622.7983

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