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Fundus
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Habits
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Sex & Birth
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Postpartum
Depression
Transition To
Parenthood

Postpartum blues “Baby Blues”

As a new mother you may experience a significant amount of emotions during the first few days after delivery that may last a few days or up to 3 weeks.

Some of the common signs and symptoms include:

Mood swings

Confusion

Crying episodes

Anxiety

Irritability

Worrying

Fatigue

Sleep problems

These are normal reactions to the transition of becoming a new mother, a parent. As the body is shifting from its pregnant state to the non-pregnant state there are many changes occurring physically as well as psychologically. These symptoms will resolve and pass with support and reassurance. There is a small risk that the postpartum blues will lead to depression, especially if you have a previous history of depression. Therefore if the symptoms do not resolve or seem to be getting worse, notify you’re midwife or healthcare provider immediately.

Postpartum Depression

Approximately 5%-22% of women will experience postpartum depression after the birth of their baby or with adoption of a new baby. If you are an adolescent (teen mother) your risk for postpartum depression is increased. This is not a subject widely talked about, but is common and treatable. If you are experiencing the following symptoms please contact your midwife.

Loss of appetite

Feeling anxious or irritability

Weight loss without dieting

Not able to sleep

Feeling overwhelmed

Feeling fatigue or tired all day

Fear you may hurt yourself or your baby

Loss of interest in daily activities

Feeling panic or anxiety

Feeling sad, empty and tearful

Feeling lonely

Crying all the time

Feeling angry

Inability to concentrate or focus

Your healthcare provider may use a screening tool know as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to detect if you are experiencing postpartum depression. There are multiple tools your provider may use to assess and provide adequate treatment.

Another tool they may use is the “two question test.”

  1. Over the past 2 weeks have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  2. Over the past 2 weeks have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?

Lab work may also be collected to check to see if you are anemic, have a thyroid disorder, or diabetes. All of these also have symptoms similar to depression.

Your midwife/ provider will want to help you regain your physical health and will be able to provide you with ideas that will assist you with how you are feeling. Some will follow the NURSE Program Model of Care that is a care plan designed to help women with depression/ mood disorders.

NURSE Program Model of Care

Nourishment and Needs

  • Eat small frequent meals high in protein
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily and limit caffeine intake
  • Continue PNV if breastfeeding or daily multivitamin
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Determine what needs you feel that have to be met and have family member, significant other, or friend assist with cooking, cleaning, care of other children, or any other assistance they can provide to decrease the pressures during the period of transition into new motherhood.

Understanding

  • You can be referred to a specialist for therapy.
  • Joining a support group for women with postpartum mood disorders is another option.
  • Reading books or pamphlets with information on postpartum mood disorders is also helpful.
  • Journaling and writing down your feelings may help you release you emotions on paper. You can toss your writing or save it to find a pattern or triggers to why you are having these thoughts/emotions.
  • Family and friends support during this time will allow for you to regain belief in yourself.

Rest and Relaxation

Sleep is very important. With a new baby and breastfeeding it may be difficult to get uninterrupted sleep, but if a partner or family member is able to help with at least one night time feeding you may at least be able to get 4-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you are breastfeeding, pumping and saving milk for night time feedings is helpful. When baby is taking a nap, it may be the perfect time for you to take a nap as well.

Take a bath, read a book, massage, eat a light snack before bedtime, meditation, or yoga are some techniques that can assist you to relax.

Spirituality

Believing in God or another higher being can assist you on finding your inner strength and peace.

Exercise

With exercise your body releases hormones that act as a mood stabilizer. Depending how many days/weeks postpartum you are will determine how much exercise you are able to participate in. Taking walks around the neighborhood with your baby is a good way to get some exercise and exposure to sunlight.

(Beck & Driscoll, 2006)

If your midwife or provider determines that medication is needed to treat your depression, discuss risks and benefits of the medication

http://depressionafterdelivery.com/

Loss of a Baby

If you have a loss of a baby from an abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, adoption, or infant loss you and your family will experience a wide range of emotions and go through the grief and mourning stages related to your loss. The way you go through your grieving process is individually unique to you but to be able to work through and cope with your loss you will have to go through the stages of grief.

Grief can affect the body in the following way:

Loss of energy and fatigue

Diarrhea/ constipation

Changes in sleep habits

Restlessness/ irritability

Decreased concentration/ forgetfulness

Pain/ heaviness in chest area

Weak/achy muscles

Shortness of breath

Headaches

Hot/cold spells

Nausea

Changes in sexual desire

Appetite changes

 

Here are some coping strategies that may assist you when dealing with a loss

  • Keep in close contact with your midwife or caregiver so you can call if you are feeling like you need to talk to someone for support.
  • Express feelings about yourself and your baby to your partner, family, and friends.
  • Journaling can help by allowing you to write out your feelings and you can go back and read them at a later time or can burn up the paper to get rid of negative feelings.
  • Having a memorial service or ceremony once you are ready to attend can assist in helping to remember your baby.
  • Speaking with a religious or spiritual leader and attending church/ worship. This may offer spiritual comfort.
  • Caring for your body by eating healthy foods, taking vitamins, staying away from caffeine and alcohol, don’t smoke, try to exercise daily starting off slow (such as taking a walk around the neighborhood and getting some sun).
  • Make an album or memory box for keepsakes of the baby. The hospital usually offers one. When possible pictures should be taken by the hospital personnel along with obtaining footprints, lock of hair, for remembrance of your baby.
  • Take time making changes and important decisions at this time. Time should be taken to allow for grieving to occur (normal process of loss).
  • Your provider should discuss and provide as much information to you and your family about the management of the loss to educate you on what is happening and why.

March of Dimes, How can you deal with your grief?
http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/572_4047.asp

Some resources if you are experiencing a loss

  • Support groups for families who have also experienced a loss
  • Reading materials (books and pamphlets) about grief can help by being able to read about others feelings and losses and relating them to how you are feelings (i.e. An Empty Cradle a Full Heart by Christine O'Keeffe Lafser)
  • Hospice for Children