Being pregnant and going through labor and childbirth can take an emotional toll on a woman. It might not always be happy and sunshiny on motherhood land. New moms can experience a spectrum of emotions after having a baby. While some people snub it as baby blues, others might be quick to jump to conclusions about postpartum depression. But how do you know for sure? Continue reading the article to know about the common emotional problems faced by parents with new babies.
The Most Common: Baby Blues
Just because it’s the most common kind of emotional problem faced by new mothers doesn’t mean they don’t need help. Around 70-80% of all new moms experience baby blues after having a baby (1). The symptoms usually start to show 4-5 days after the baby’s birth. There could be many reasons why baby blues occur in women. It could be the hormonal fluctuations the body goes through during pregnancy, the sleep deprivation, being thrown into completely new territory after baby’s birth or the emotional experience of labor and childbirth.
The symptoms may include crying without any reason, restlessness, anxiety, being easily irritated, impatience, sadness, mood swings, tiredness, sleeplessness, and poor concentration (2). These symptoms usually start to disappear or lessen after 2 weeks. It’s important to provide the mother support and help during this time. Also, know that being a mom is no easy job, and don’t strive for perfection. Give your body and mind a break and take time to rest so that you can heal completely. Be honest about how you feel, eat right and get enough sleep. But if you don’t notice any improvement, talk to a doctor.
Anxiety: Things You Need To Know
Around 10% of women can experience anxiety after giving birth to a baby (3). It is known as Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Some women may also feel depressed along with anxiety. Postpartum anxiety can also come with postpartum panic disorder. In such cases, women get panic attacks along with feeling anxious. Look out for symptoms such as being constantly worried, having no control over your thoughts, changes in sleeping and eating, the constant fear of something terrible happening, and difficulty focusing or sitting idle. It can also accompany physical symptoms such as hot flashes, dizziness, and nausea. If the right treatment is provided, the patient can recover completely.
Not Feeling The Bond: Attachment Issues
For some women, the moment they set their eyes upon the baby, it’s love at first sight. They instantly feel the love and warmth and are overcome by motherly love. But it may not be the case for every new mom (4). Mothers who are unable to bond with their baby may be overcome with shame and guilt. Long and tough labor or suffering from depression or anxiety could also be reasons why mothers are not able to bond with their baby. Get all the support you need, and know that it will happen eventually. But if you feel the same way after a few weeks, get help from a health care professional.
The Most Known: Postpartum Depression
It may begin early during pregnancy or after having the baby (5). Though commonly mistaken as baby blues, the symptoms are much more intense and last longer. The symptoms usually start to appear in the first few weeks after birth. It may include excessive crying, severe mood swings, not eating at all or eating more than usual, insomnia or sleeping all the time, feeling low, restlessness, no interest in baby, fatigue, withdrawing from people who are close, intense anger, feeling worthless, shame or inadequate, and self-harming thoughts among others. Seek help from a doctor immediately if the symptoms persist after 2 weeks. Early treatment could help you towards a faster recovery.
The Rarest: Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is a severe form of depression and affects 1-2 in 1000 women (6). The symptoms can appear suddenly and are severe. Watch out for symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, thoughts of harming themselves or the baby, rapid mood changes, excessive energy, and behaving in a strange way. It calls for immediate treatment.
Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)
It affects about 3-5 % of women after giving birth to a baby (7). Symptoms may include being obsessed about baby’s safety, fear to be alone with the baby, persistent and repetitive disturbing thoughts about the baby, tendency to do things relating to the baby again and again like counting, listing and rechecking stuff. Identifying the symptoms and getting the right treatment can help women with PPOCD experience relief from being controlled by their obsessions.
If you know a new parent suffering from an emotional problem that doesn’t seem to fade away after 2 weeks, it is best to get them the professional help that they might need. Also, be loving and caring towards them and provide all the support they require.