Post-pregnancy: The term itself brings up a lot of emotions, concerns, and questions. While holding a newborn can be overwhelming, maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle can be difficult. With new responsibilities, a mother is often caught between trying to get used to caring for her baby and dealing with the changes in her own body. Only mothers know how giving birth to a child transforms a woman’s life in the most unexpected ways. In the midst of all this, women can also experience prolonged and severe periods of depression or anxiety problems after pregnancy, known as postpartum depression. While it can affect a mother’s ability to care for her baby, here are signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that she should be aware of.
To find out more about the condition, Health Shots spoke to Dr. Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant, OB/GYN, Maternity Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru.
Post-pregnancy mental health issues can include baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, according to Dr. Inamdar.
Pregnancy and childbirth are the most memorable experiences in a woman’s life. However, along with a baby comes many challenges for the new mother. Taking care of the baby, accepting the postpartum body and adjusting to the chaotic life can affect the mental well-being of the new mom. Women are told how their physical bodies will change after giving birth, but mental health issues are an aspect of pregnancy that is often ignored.
It is normal for mothers to feel lost in the first weeks with the baby. They may experience stress, anxiety, and an urge to cry, and this could be a sign of postpartum depression. Knowing the symptoms of mental health problems can help new moms bond with their newborn baby.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression
Dr. Inamdar says that after pregnancy, mental health problems range from the blues to postpartum depression to postpartum psychosis. Many mothers experience depression and anxiety in the first year postpartum. It is normal to feel sad and depressed for two weeks after giving birth. This period is known as baby blues. However, if she experiences the symptoms listed below for more than two weeks, she may have postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression are:
- Humor changes
- Negative thoughts about harming yourself or the baby for more than two weeks
While postpartum blues and postpartum depression are still common, postpartum psychosis is a rare disorder that causes a woman to lose touch with reality. Although mothers who have bipolar disorder or a history of mood disorders are at increased risk of experiencing this illness, it can also occur in women without a history of mental illness. “Symptoms of this medical condition include confusion, hallucinations, delusions, disorganized behavior and sudden feeling of unconsciousness. Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric illness that requires immediate medical attention, as it poses a threat of suicide and harm to the baby,” says Dr. Inamdar.
Identify mental health problems in women after pregnancy
Most of the time, women who experience mental health problems after giving birth tend to hide their feelings from other people. They don’t want to share their emotional baggage with anyone else, so their silent cries for help often go unnoticed and unheard.
Dr. Inamdar says, “It is the responsibility of spouses, friends, and family members to identify when the new mom is suffering and encourage her to seek treatment. They can also help by simply talking to her about her feelings. Asking about her day, helping around the house, taking care of the baby, and letting her sleep a few extra hours in the morning can help her feel less overwhelmed.”