Postpartum Depression

What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression comes in a variety of forms from mild to severe.  The Mills Depression and Anxiety Checklist can help you evaluate how serious your depression is.
Postpartum Blues 
Postpartum Blues usually begins 3-4 days after delivery, worsen by days 5-7, and usually resolve by day 12.  For symptoms that do not resolve by 2 weeks, it is important to contact your midwife and seek medical help.  Common symptoms are:

  • Tearfulness
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Although the cause is not completely understood, the main contributors are probably the changes in your body related to childbirth, the fatigue of caring for a new baby, and the monumental adjustment of becoming a new mother.  Because 50-80% of new mothers are affected, it is considered normal.  Fatigue aggravates the symptoms of Postpartum Blues.  Getting more rest is the most important thing you can do. Get extra help caring for the baby so that you can sleep.  If you feel isolated, call friends and/or family to visit you.

Postpartum Depression
For some women, postpartum blues do not go away, and develop into postpartum depression.  Many studies indicate that symptoms may be strongest from 6-12 months postpartum.  Common symptoms are:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Crying for no reason
  • No feelings for or overly concerned for baby
  • Irritability, frustration, outbursts of anger
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt and worry
  • Anxious or panicky feelings, hot sweats/heart palpitations
  • Isolating self from others
  • Scary and/or repetitive thoughts about self and/or baby

Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Psychosis is very rare: 1-2 women per 1000 are affected.  The onset is usually within the first 2 weeks.  It evolves rapidly and is characterized by depressed or elated mood, disorganized behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.  Women with postpartum psychosis are at high risk for suicide.  It is crucial that treatment is obtained immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Postpartum depression should be treated, and BetterBirth will help you find a provider to help you. Treatment will vary depending on the nature of your symptoms.  Some doctors will recommend antidepressant drugs.  Others may recommend hormones, homeopathics, or herbs.  It is important to have a care provider that will take your condition seriously.  If you feel that you are not being cared for properly, let us know.

Professional Help for Postpartum Depression

Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative
The Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative is one of the best resources for women dealing with postpartum depression and their families.

Happens before birth, too.

"As someone who suffers with anxiety and is a bit of a hypochondriac, I was nervous I wouldn't be a great fit for a birthing center.  Wrong I was!  I feel so calm here."

- Simons February 2014