New mothers often experience sadness, irritability, and forgetfulness. This is typically referred to as the "baby blues," and as many as 80% of women will experience it postpartum. The baby blues usually lasts for about 10 days and can be due in large part to fatigue, as well as the emotional highs and lows of labor, delivery, and new motherhood. However, approximately 15% of new moms suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), an extended period of extreme sadness.
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider, whether it’s the baby blues or PPD. Some women may feel embarrassed about seeking help, but they shouldn't! PPD is both common and treatable, so speak up and embrace support.
While PPD will look different for every woman, there are a few signs to watch out for.
Guilt. Postpartum depression may cause you to feel guilty all the time - about what kind of mother you are, about your parenting choices, or even about feeling depressed.
Anger. Irritability, anger, and rage can be signs of PPD. You may find yourself reacting with extreme anger to something that might normally register as only annoyance. You may feel unable to control your rage.
Withdrawal. You may feel like isolating yourself from friends and family.
Uncontrollable sobbing. It is common to cry a lot after having your baby, but the kind of crying that makes it hard to get out of bed may be a sign of PPD.
Insomnia. An inability to sleep may be a sign of PPD. While it is normal to have a hard time sleeping after a major life event, your insomnia may be connected to anxiety. You may also experience a loss of appetite.
Disconnection. You may not feel very connected to your baby or have much interest in taking care of him. This can create a cycle in which you try harder to connect, but feel like a failure and then retreat even more.
Something feels wrong. It may be hard to articulate, but you just don’t feel like yourself. You’re worried, you want to run away, you can’t concentrate, you feel out of control.
Remember: Postpartum depression can happen to any mother and it isn’t your fault. You don’t need to be experiencing every sign to have PPD. We all have bad days from time to time - but seek out help if you recognize that these signs are persistent for two weeks or more. For more expert information about PPD, visit Baby Box University.