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Women experience a fluctuation of hormones all throughout their life. And there’s no doubt that hormones play a huge part in both pregnancies and postpartum. A mom who just gave birth typically experiences the “baby blues” which you’ll find out is very common. She could also experience postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, and psychosis.
It can get a bit overwhelming especially during pregnancy when you learn all of these new medical terms you’ve never heard of. And some terms being more foreign to you than others if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
Therefore, I wanted to make differentiating baby blues, postpartum anxiety, depression, and psychosis as easy and simple as I can for you while including direct links to resources for further information.
What is postpartum?
The postpartum period is the first 6 weeks after giving birth and can last up to 6 months.
But according to Healthline Parenthood, it’s not uncommon for the first year to feel like a tidal shift.
I’m sure some (or maybe a lot of) women can agree that your mind and body are never the same after having a baby. However, for the sake of breaking down potential postpartum complications- we’re going to say that a woman transitions into the postpartum phase from 6 weeks to a year.
What are baby blues?
Baby blues (or postpartum blues) are mood swings experienced by up to 80% of women that give birth. It’s super common and typically occurs 3 to 5 days after delivery. And can last up to a couple of weeks.
If the baby blues symptoms go beyond 2 weeks, it may be more serious like postpartum depression.
Along with the hormonal fluctuation during and after pregnancy, adjustments that come with having a new baby like sleep and routine disturbance, and emotions from the childbirth experience itself can all contribute to how a new mom feels as stated by American Pregnancy Association.
Baby Blues Symptoms
A mom experiencing the “baby blues” can feel:
Another common symptom is crying for no reason along with any mood changes.
Get as much sleep as you can. And if you feel like that’s impossible to do- I’d reach out to a friend or family for help.
Other ways to make yourself feel better when you’re down with the “baby blues” is to take a walk outside, eat your favorite foods, do something you enjoy doing, and talk to a friend.
What is postpartum anxiety?
Postpartum anxiety is basically when you’re overly worried about everything after giving birth. It’s similar to regular anxiety.
However, postpartum anxiety is more related to being a new parent and having a baby.
Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms
Whattoexpect.com lists postpartum anxiety symptoms as having:
- dread or sense of danger
- trouble staying asleep
- excessive worrying
- persistently feeling you’re on edge
- overwhelming sense of burden, stress, and concern about being a good parent
It’s important for you to talk to your doctor if sleep, exercising, extracurricular activities, or talking to a friend or family doesn’t work.
Your symptoms might worsen until you get professional treatment like therapy or counseling, or getting on anti-anxiety medication.
What is postpartum depression?
“Baby blues” is commonly experienced by all moms after giving birth. But some moms experience a more severe and long-lasting case of the “baby blues” called postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be a little tricky. It can happen as early as during pregnancy to the first few weeks after giving birth to even begin up to a year after having a baby.
I experienced postpartum depression around 4 months postpartum.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Postpartum depression signs and symptoms can be similar to “baby blues” symptoms but more severe. And it could also mesh with postpartum anxiety symptoms.
MayoClinic lists postpartum depression as signs and symptoms like:
- feeling depressed
- severe mood swings
- difficulty bonding with baby
- overwhelming fatigue
- withdrawing from friends and family
- reduced interest in things you used to enjoy
- severe anxiety and panic attacks
- thoughts of harming yourself or baby
- overwhelming fatigue
If you’re experiencing any of the following or think what you’re feeling isn’t “normal”- you should seek treatment as soon as possible because symptoms can worsen the later you get treated.
About 90% of women with postpartum depression can be treated successfully with medication or a combo of medication and psychotherapy according to WebMD.
Postpartum depression treatments are typically therapy or counseling, and or medication like anti-depressants.
It’s important to seek help and talk to your doctor when you’re feeling the symptoms listed above. With proper treatment, your symptoms are going to improve.
And if you’re worried about getting on anti-depressants while breastfeeding- don’t worry. There are breastfeeding-safe anti-depressant medications.
What is postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is rare. And it can happen suddenly within the first 2 weeks after giving birth.
Postpartum Psychosis Symptoms
Postpartum Support International lists postpartum psychosis symptoms as having:
- delusions or strange beliefs
- rapid mood swings
- decreased need or inability to sleep
Treatments for postpartum psychosis can be a combination of medications like antipsychotic, mood stabilizers, and benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax).
If medication doesn’t help, then electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is usually the next step.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
This helpline is:
- free of charge
- no insurance required
- open 24/7
- available in both English and Spanish
- provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations
Whether you’re experiencing the “baby blues”, postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, or psychosis- it’s important to let your doctor know. And the earlier, the better.
You’ll be given the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale survey during your postpartum OB visits and during your well-child care visits. It’s the paper with a list of questions pertaining to how you felt in the past 7 days.
Be completely honest on those surveys so the doctors can catch any abnormalities while it’s at an early stage. The quicker signs and symptoms are caught, the quicker you’ll get to feeling better. And you definitely don’t want to prolong postpartum depression and psychosis. Just know you aren’t alone mama and many moms have gone through it and gotten the help they needed.