Having a baby is not something that should ever be taken lightly. Pregnancy can change a woman’s body, both physically and mentally. Despite it being something that is done every day, all over the world, conceiving comes with a lot of risks. When a woman decides that she wants to have a baby, carry it and give birth, she is “signing up” for these risks, but she knows that there is support out there if she should need it. When a baby enters this world, mom is usually relieved. She is happy that her baby has made it here safely, and can’t wait to start this new life as a mom.
Everyone else is usually pretty excited, and as they are busy gushing and fawning over the new baby, they may be overlooking a mom who is struggling. The fourth trimester is difficult, and it can come without warning if mom hasn’t been told what the postpartum period can feel like. She may not know what is going on in her mind, and this can even cause her to think that there is something wrong with her. However, postpartum challenges can happen to anyone, and they are typically seen in four primary ways.
Taking a closer look at postpartum depression, anxiety, rage, and psychosis can help prepare a new mom for what she needs to look out for, and to reassure her that help is out there should she need it.
Despite it being one of the most well-known postpartum illnesses, there is still a large stigma surrounding PPD. According to Mayo Clinic, postpartum depression is different from just the “baby blues,” which a lot of new moms experience. The baby blues are associated with the regulation of hormones and are only temporary.
PPD is a severe and long-lasting form of depression, and it manifests in the same way typical depression does. This means that a mom who is struggling with PPD may have severe mood swings, may cry excessively, have difficulty bonding with the baby, lose their appetite, and have reduced pleasure in activities.
This is not something that should be overlooked, especially if it continues on for more than a month after the baby is born. The problem is that this can be hard for a mom to open up about, and she may even be embarrassed or fearful that people will label her a “bad mom.” Doctors can help with this, and there are medications and specialists that you can speak with that can help you through.
Postpartum anxiety is often seen as the “cousin” of PPD, but they are very different. According to Healthline, postpartum anxiety can be hard for a new mom to notice, since it is normal for a new mom to worry about their new baby. Postpartum anxiety is more extreme, and it can cause a new mom to stay up at night, she may find herself on the edge most of the time, and she may have intrusive thoughts about all the “bad” things that can happen to her baby.
Signs of postpartum anxiety are a constant worry that cannot be relieved, a looming feeling of dread, and racing thoughts. Mom may also find that she is tired, her heart starts beating fast, and she can start sweating and even hyperventilating.
It is always important to get help, and there is help for moms out there with postpartum anxiety. Speaking to a doctor when mom feels like things are getting out of control, or when she feels like it is getting the way of her being able to parent is important. Much like with PPD, medication and support can help a new mom through it.
Postpartum rage is one that we don’t hear of too often, and this means that it can often fly under the radar of new moms, their family members, and even medical professionals. According to What To Expect, postpartum rage is a part of PPD, it just manifests differently. A mom with postpartum rage will be irritated and will “fly into fury” at the slightest inconvenience.
Moms who are struggling with this are often overlooked because they don’t have the “typical” signs of PPD. This could manifest in different ways, but a mom with postpartum rage may have intense anger, feel powerless, cry excessively, and may even have negative feelings toward their baby.
Postpartum psychosis is what is usually going on when we hear about the extreme cases of PPD in new moms. According to WebMD, when something is labeled as a “psychosis” it means that the person has lost touch with reality, and they need some help. Postpartum psychosis is defined as a very serious mental disorder and one that needs to be brought to a medical professional because it can put mom and baby at risk.
Postpartum psychosis will also happen suddenly, with little to no warning, making it important to know what some symptoms are. A mother with psychosis may have delusions and hallucinations. She will likely have a heightened sense of paranoia and suspicious feelings and will have constant mood swings.
When it comes to postpartum psychosis, 1 in 20 women diagnosed with it will try to harm themselves or their baby, pointing to how seriously it needs to be taken. If you, or a new mom you know, are feeling this way, it is important that help is getting immediately. Doctors who are presented with cases like this will often make a referral to a perinatal psychiatrist who will be able to help.
There Is No Shame
It is important to bring up the fact that postpartum mood disorders still carry a heavy weight of stigma and shame. This is one of the most common reasons why women do not reach out for help. According to Postpartum Progress, society has made women, and moms, feel like this is something that they should feel shame about. Becoming a mother should be nothing but a joyous time, and that if they are feeling this way, they must be “failing” at being a mom.
This is not true, and postpartum mood disorders are no different from physical disorders or challenges, and they need to be treated as such. It is important for a mom to get help if she needs it, she deserves to be happy and healthy and to enjoy motherhood.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Healthline, What To Expect, WebMD, Postpartum Progress
Confronting PPD & ‘Baby Blues’ Can Make Your Bond With Your Baby Stronger
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