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Postpartum Depression, the 'Baby Blues'
and Violence Against Children
Becoming a mother is an event that changes your life forever. You feel elated and filled with anticipation … and you can also feel anxious, scared and unsure. From the second you hold your baby in your arms you discover a love and connection like nothing you’ve ever known.

Some women don’t always feel that instant connection because they experience mood swings. One minute they’re on cloud nine and the next minute they are crying and have no idea why. Some new mothers may feel depressed, while others could lose their appetite, find it difficult to concentrate, or experience other symptoms. Often, these symptoms can start about 3 to 4 days after your baby’s birth and may last several days. As a new mom experiencing any of these symptoms …no need for alarm. This is called the "baby blues" which is a normal part of new motherhood and usually lasts about 10 days after the birth of your baby. Some new moms have more severe symptoms or symptoms that last longer. This is called "postpartum depression." And you are not alone. Many women experience this …including celebrities Marie Osmond and Brooke Shields who each went through this and wrote about their experiences. Many women get depressed right after giving birth, yet some don't feel "blue" until several weeks or months later. Depression that occurs within 6 months of childbirth may be postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is an illness and can be treated with therapy, support networks and medicines such as antidepressants.

It is important to recognize the correlation between post partum depression and violence aganst children.

Although any woman with postpartum depression can have fleeting, frightening thoughts of suicide or harming their babies, some women with rare postpartum psychosis experience these thoughts as urges they feel compelled to act on. If you think you can't keep from hurting yourself, your baby, or someone else, see your health professional immediately or call 911 for emergency medical care. You can also call:

  • The national suicide hotline, National Hopeline Network
    1-800-784-2433
  • The National Child Abuse Hotline
    1-800-422-4453

Some Postpartum Depression symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • No energy or motivation to do things
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Increased crying or tearfulness
  • Feeling like life isn't worth living
  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself
  • Worrying about hurting your baby
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or overly guilty
  • Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
If you have ever experienced any of these symptoms, you are more likely to experience Postpartum Depression:
  • Previous Postpartum Depression
  • Depression not related to pregnancy
  • Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • A difficult marriage
  • Few family members or friends to talk to or depend on
  • Stressful life events during the pregnancy or after the childbirth

No one really knows why women get Postpartum Depression for sure. Hormone levels do change during pregnancy and immediately after delivery. Those hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that play a part in causing depression. For women who experience it, some will feel better within a few weeks. Other new moms feel depressed for several months. Moms who have more severe symptoms of depression or who have had depression in the past may take longer to get well. It is no one’s fault … new moms just need to get the right help. And help is available. There are support groups available, as well as medicines prescribed by your doctor. Of course when considering an antidepressant, speak with your doctor about the risks of taking an antidepressant while breast feeding. Your doctor can decide what is best for you while nursing your baby. The postpartum adjustment period can be a difficult one. Any new mom experiencing this needs the support, guidance and the company of other women and at times medical help. It is important for a new mom to feel as nurtured and supported. When you are feeling good and thriving … your baby will feel the same. You Can Help Yourself If you have recently given birth and feel sad, blue, anxious, irritable, tired or have any of the other symptoms mentioned above, it is important to remember that you are not alone and not "losing your mind" or "going crazy." You don’t have to suffer.

You can:

Rest - It's basic advice, but many moms ignore it. Downtime is important.

Get help around the house - If you cannot afford to pay someone to help you around the house, ask your husband, relative, friend or neighbor. It’s important to prevent the overwhelmed feeling that you can't leave the house.

Have a go-to person and a backup team - In most cases, your husband or another family member you’re your back-up but single moms should create an infrastructure before their delivery day.

Get exercise and eat right - Working out and eating a healthy diet can go a long way and will help you feel and look better.

  • If you feel like you are going to harm your baby, call a relative, friend or neighbor to stay with the baby. When they arrive call your doctor. If you have no support system to stay with the baby, take you and your baby to a hospital emergency room.
  • Find someone to talk to and tell that person about your feelings.
  • Find a support group in your area or contact one of the organizations listed below. They can put you in touch with people near you who have experience with postpartum depression.
  • Talk with your doctor about how you feel. He or she may offer counseling and/or medicines that can help.
  • Get help with child care, household chores and errands. This support will help you find time for yourself so you can rest.
  • Take a break! Find time to do something for yourself, even if it's only 15 minutes a day. Try reading, exercising (walking is good for you and easy to do), taking a bath or meditating.
  • Take baby steps in trying to get things done. Even if you can only get one thing done in any given day, you’re going the right direction. There may be days when you can't get anything done. Don’t get upset or angry with yourself when this happens.
  • It is perfectly okay to feel overwhelmed. Having a baby brings many changes, and parenting is one of the most challenging changes you will experience. When you're not feeling like yourself, these changes can seem overwhelming.
  • Keep a daily diary. Writing down your emotions and feelings is a great way of "letting it all out." When you start to feel better, reread your diary. It will help you see how much better you are.
  • No one expects you to be "supermom." Be honest about how much you can do, and ask other people to help you.
Postpartum Support Links

NOTE: If you feel as though you are in an emergency crisis mode, please call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room of your local hospital.

Postpartum Support International

The Center for Postpartum Adjustment
PPD support in South Florida

The Center for Postpartum Health
PPD support in Woodland Hills , CA

Depression.com

Depression After Delivery

Depression Central

Families for Depression Awareness

The Online PPD Support Group

ParentsPlace.com Postpartum Depression Bulletin Board

PostpartumDads.org
Helping Families Overcome Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression Illinois Alliance

Postpartum Resource Center of Texas

Preemieparenting.com

Reproheart
PPD support in Watertown , MA

Wellmother.com

Women's Health Today

Books

Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression – By Marie Osmond

Down Came the Rain -- By Brooke Shields

This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression – By  Karen Kleiman, Valerie Raskin

Conguering Postpartum Depression: A Proven Plan for Recovery – By  Ronald Rosenberg, MD

Beyond The Blues: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression – By Shoshana S. Bennett and Pec Indman

Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Anxiety – By Linda Sebastian

Sleepless Days: 1 Woman’s Journey Through Postpartum Depression –  By Susan Kushner Resnick

 The Postpartum Husband – By Karen R, Kleiman

 

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