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  • Maternal Mental Health Information

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    Postpartum Depression

    Do you feel like your experience with the “baby blues” is different than others? Has it lasted longer than you think it should? Has it impacted this special time with your baby? Postpartum mood disorders affect one in every five women.The important thing is that if you think you’re experiencing postpartum depression is that you get help.Check out the description from Postpartum Progress to see the symptoms  listed in real mom language:

    “Okay.  Here we go. You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:

    • You feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.” More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.” You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
    • You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
    • You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do.
    • You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
    • You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
    • You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.
    • You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
    • You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.
    • You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
    • You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
    • You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.
    • You feel disconnected. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there’s an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
    • Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality. You do yoga. You’re thinking “Why can’t I just get over this?” You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
    • You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
    • You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
    • You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
    • You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.”

    Postpartum Anxiety

    Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.


    The symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum might include:

    • Constant worry
    • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
    • Racing thoughts
    • Disturbances of sleep and appetite
    • Inability to sit still
    • Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors for perinatal anxiety and panic include a personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance.

    In addition to generalized anxiety, there are some specific forms of anxiety that you should know about. One is Postpartum Panic Disorder. This is a form of anxiety with which the sufferer feels very nervous and has recurring panic attacks. During a panic attack, she may experience:

    shortness of breath

    chest pain



    heart palpitations

    numbness and tingling in the extremities

    some clients have described it as an uncontrollable sense that they or the baby is in danger

    Panic attacks seem to go in waves, but it is important to know that they will pass and will not hurt you.

    Postpartum and antepartum ( during pregnancy) anxiety are temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from one of these illnesses, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame.

     ( Information taken from Postpartum Support International, their website is linked below)

    Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    Are you unsure if you experienced a traumatic birth but you don’t feel “right” about your experience? If you felt unsafe, if you felt that you weren’t listened to, if you felt out of control, if you felt you were ignored as a person, or that interventions occurred without your consent then you experienced a traumatic birth. It doesn’t matter if someone else had a ‘worse’ experience than you. Having a healthy baby isn’t the only thing that is important. Trauma is personal, and the only perspective that matters is yours. Read below for more information on postpartum post traumatic stress disorder.

    Have you experienced any of the symptoms below?

    Intrusive memories, thoughts, flashbacks and/or dreams of the event.

    Avoidance of reminders, or a general sense of emotional numbing including avoiding your baby.

    Physiological over-activity, as manifested by angry outbursts, hyperactive startle response (fight-or-flight reactions or panic attacks in response to environmental cues that remind you of the trauma), or constantly being on guard.

    Online Resources

    I love the websites below for more information on the postpartum experience including real stories from other moms, factual information about what to look for and for hope that it does get better with help. 

    The Birth Hour

    Postpartum Progress

    Postpartum Support of Virginia

    Postpartum Support International

    Helping moms thrive during one of the toughest transitions they will face is our joy. We love serving the families of Arlington, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Maryland, and Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding communities. Reach out today for a free consultation about your next steps and to see if we are a good fit.