Postpartum Adjustment

 

Postpartum Mood Disorders

Postpartum Mood Disorders (PPMDs) include the following:

  • Postpartum Pinks
  • Postpartum or Baby Blues
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Postpartum Psychosis

 

The postpartum pinks refer to a mild elation following the birth of a child that can last hours to days until a normal level of happiness returns.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

Pregnancy, the birth of a baby or an adoption brings physical, emotional and social changes. Adjusting to the new roles and relationships is not always easy. Some women are unaffected while for others, the severity of the mood disorder varies from the normal baby blues to the medical emergency postpartum psychosis.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

The baby blues are normal and very common. Up to 75% of women may experience them.

The baby blues are characterized by:

  • Fluctuating moods
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Crying spells
  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling irritable
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Feeling exhausted

 

These feelings may happen in the first few days after the baby is born and can last hours to days. They usually pass within 1 to 2 weeks. Taking care of yourself and asking for support from family and friends can be helpful, but generally no further treatment is necessary.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

Postpartum depression is a depression that begins within the first year after you have a baby.

Sometimes the baby blues don’t go away and instead may spiral right into postpartum depression. Other times, the baby blues go away and symptoms of postpartum depression occur later during your baby’s first year.

Who is affected by Postpartum Depression? How many?
Mothers 13%
Fathers 10.4%
Adoptive Parents 28%

Postpartum depression can last weeks to months. Early detection and treatment is the key to recovery. It is treatable and help is available for you and your family.

The causes are not completely understood. Some factors may be:

  • Hormonal and chemical changes in the body
  • Stress and lack of support
  • Adjusting to motherhood
  • A history of mental illness or trauma

If you are experiencing Postpartum Depression you may:

  • Not feel like yourself
  • Feel sad and tearful
  • Feel exhausted, but unable to sleep
  • Feel overwhelmed and can’t concentrate
  • Have changes in your eating and sleeping patterns
  • Have no interest in the activities you once enjoyed
  • Feel hopeless or frustrated
  • Feel restless, irritable or angry
  • Feel extremely high and full of energy
  • Feel anxious- you may feel this as aches, chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness, tingling or “lump” in the throat
  • Feel guilty and ashamed, thinking you are not a good parent
  • Not be bonding with the baby, or be afraid to be alone with the baby
  • Have repeated scary thoughts about the baby
  • Have thoughts about harming yourself or your baby

Have you had any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks? Don’t wait. There is help available. Where Can I Get Help is a list of community supports for you and your family.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

Life with a new baby is stressful for fathers/partners as well, especially if the mother becomes depressed.

Dads/Partners need to look after themselves and should ask for help as soon as they feel depressed or anxious too.

For more information, go to the Fathers section of our website. For helpful videos and information visit 24 Hour Cribside Assistance, a site for dads, by dads.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency. Get help right away:

  • Go to your local hospital’s emergency department
  • Call the Grey Bruce Health Services Crisis Intervention Team at 519-376-2121 Ext 2450

 

With postpartum psychosis, the mother may:

  • Have thoughts of harming herself or the baby
  • Hear or see things that are not there
  • Believe people are going to harm her or the baby
  • Feel confused or out of touch with reality
  • Do not blame yourself. You are not alone in feeling the way you do. Do not feel ashamed or guilty for your thoughts and feelings. They do not make you a bad parent. Understand that this is not your fault.
  • Ask for help.  Talk to your partner, family, friends and health care provider. Do not be ashamed of your feelings. Delaying help may delay recovery.
  • Take care of yourself.  Try to rest, eat healthy foods and get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Take time for yourself. Accept offers of help with household chores and baby care so you can have a break. Accept and understand that as a new mom you cannot do everything.
  • Access community supports. Be willing to try things that may be unfamiliar such as counselling and group support. Find out what’s available at Where Can I Get Help.
  • Consider medication. Your health care provider may recommend a medication that is safe to use while breastfeeding and is not addictive.
  • Take it one day at a time. This is treatable and you will get better.

 

If you have questions or concerns about your baby, speak with your doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

  • Listen and support her feelings. Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Don’t tell her to “Snap out of it,” or “You should be happy you have a healthy baby.” This will only make her feel worse.
  • Encourage her to seek professional help. Assist her in finding a compassionate health care professional. Offer to go with her to appointments for added support.
  • Develop your relationship with the baby. This can provide the mother with a much needed break.
  • Ask her how you can help. Providing meals, doing household chores, looking after other children or listening to her will be helpful.
  • Educate yourself about postpartum mood disorders. Be patient. It takes time to recover.
  • Take time for yourself. Ensure you have some time to do what you enjoy doing. You need a break too.
  • Find someone to talk to. A postpartum mood disorder is hard on everyone. Family, friends, your health care provider or the Mental Health Crisis Line of Grey Bruce can provide you with needed assistance.
  • Don’t take your partner’s PPMD personally. Postpartum mood disorders are no one’s fault. Avoid misunderstanding and frustration by communicating with your partner.

Remember: There is help and you will recover.

Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre

 

Resources

Where Can I Get Help

Community Resources for Parents

Pregnancy Is Not Always What You Expect

Life with a New Baby Is Not Always What You Expect

The Mental Health Crisis Line of Grey Bruce

 

References

Interventions for Postpartum Depression Best Practice Guideline (2005). Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

Life with a new baby is not always what you expect. Best Start Resource Centre.

Postpartum Mood Disorder Project. Northeastern PPMD Strategy.

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Toronto Public Health.

 

Share this page