Postpartum Problems

Welcome back my dear Hypnolings,

Today I wanted to discuss a very serious and widespread issue which has a tendency to sucker-punch so many vulnerable and unsuspecting women AND men. These issues sneak up on so many new parents and it turns what should be one of the happiest events in their lives into a pit of frustration, exhaustion and despair. I am speaking of Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Psychosis. 

The first thing we need to clear up is the difference between the ‘Baby Blues,’ ‘Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Psychosis.

A review of the most recent research indicates that most new parents experience postpartum Baby Blues after childbirth,. The symptoms for which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Although it is very rarely talked about in public, the Baby Blues are practically universal and typically begin within the first two to three days after giving birth, and in most cases lasts for about two weeks.

The Mayo Clinic describes Baby Blues symptoms as most commonly:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Now, while almost everyone (fathers included) experience some form of the Baby Blues, problems arises when these feelings continue for a prolonged period or begin to interfere with the parents’ lives and the care they can give their new infant, as well as other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier; during pregnancy, or later, up to a year after birth.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness and does not occur because of something the mother (or father) does or does not do.

The National Institute of Mental Health explains:   After childbirth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop. This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Various sources list different symptoms, but the overwhelming majority agree on the following list of warning signs:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
  • Continuously doubting their ability to care for the baby
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby.

Postpartum Depression affects new Dads too. They may feel sad or fatigued, or any of the other symptoms moms face. Fathers who are young, have a history of depression, experience relationship problems or are struggling financially are most at risk of postpartum depression.

Treating Postpartum Depression is relatively straightforward and usually involves Talk Therapy and/or Medication. While I am a huge fan of natural remedies, the treatment has to be proportionate to the problem. I would much rather have a client managing their symptoms with medication while we work on the underlying issue in therapy. Also, these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, however, a woman should always talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.

A totally separate issue is Postpartum Psychosis. This is a very severe issue which needs immediate treatment. Symptoms may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Excessive energy and agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

As always, any serious suicidal thoughts and/or actions require immediate treatment!

Once again, if you are experiencing any symptoms on the spectrum, please get immediate professional assistance. The most severe symptoms which indicate treatment is in order include:

  • Don’t fade after two weeks
  • Are getting worse
  • Make it hard for you to care for your baby
  • Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
  • Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

I hope this has helped settle some worried moms, or helped others understand that they are NOT a failure as a parent or human being. What you are going through is a real, diagnosable and TREATABLE, situation.

So, cut yourself some slack. Get help if you need it and give the baby a hug from me.

Rich

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