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Filtering by Tag: recognizing postpartum depression

Postpartum Anxiety 101

Chelsea Gonzales

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Anyone who has ever suffered from uncontrollable anxiety knows what a terrible feeling it is. Unfortunately, this same anxiety is something many pregnant women suffer from, and what’s even more unfortunate is that many of these women never recieve help.

The name for this condition? Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Never heard of it? That’s okay, many people haven’t. However, it’s important that we get the word out, as this is a very serious condition that can actually lead to lifelong complications.

Therefore, we are going to use today’s article to introduce PPA and help raise awareness.

What is Postpartum Anxiety?

Like postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety is a disorder that occurs in women after they have given birth. In many women, the symptoms will appear immediately. In others, it could take several months after giving birth. Still others begin to feel the symptoms of anxiety a few weeks before they even welcome their little one into the world.

While PPA is similar to PPD in that it appears after giving birth, it is actually quite different in terms of symptoms. Women suffering from postpartum anxiety will experience nigh-unrelenting feelings of worry. Usually these worries are for her newborn and they refuse to be dismissed. This constant worry can result in trouble sleeping, changed eating habits, rapid heartbeat, hot flashes, nausea, an inability to focus, and shortness of breath.

Obviously, these symptoms are quite disruptive to everyday life, and can even make it difficult for a new mom to care for her baby.

What Causes Postpartum Anxiety?

After giving birth, women go through an enormous hormonal shift. This works along with changes in schedule, lack of sleep, and relationship changes with those nearest and dearest to them to set the stage for postpartum anxiety. At first, the symptoms may be subtle, or they may come on full-force right away.

Who Might Suffer from PPA?

Absolutely any mother who has just given birth can develop postpartum anxiety. In fact, as many at 11% of women suffer from this disorder. That said, there are some mothers who may be more susceptible to it, including:

  • Women with a personal or family history of anxiety

  • Women with a history of depression

  • Women who experience weepiness or irritability as symptoms of PMS

  • Women with eating disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Women who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth in the past

What are the Treatment Options?

Luckily, there are very effective treatment options for PPA, meaning that those who seek out treatment will almost certainly overcome the anxious feelings that are disrupting their lives.

The first course of action will likely be ensuring the new mother has help with the little one, along with giving her a professional therapist to help her regulate her worried thoughts and give her coping techniques. Even these small steps can make an enormous difference, and by also adding regular exercise into the mother’s routine, the anxiety may be eliminated completely.

If the lifestyle changes mentioned above don’t do the trick, the next step is medication. Typically, medication is only used in the most severe cases and is paired with continued therapy and positive lifestyle changes in order to make the biggest possible impact.

Conclusion

Making people aware of the reality of postpartum anxiety is the first step in helping all mamas receive the care and attention they need.

If you feel you or someone you love is likely to develop PPA based on medical history or personality, hiring a postpartum doula is an excellent preventative measure. A postpartum doula can help the new mother by providing support during the weeks after baby’s birth.

Are you or someone you know currently suffering from PPA? please let a professional care provider know. Getting the proper help is the first step to happier days with your little one.

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Chelsea Gonzales

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We’ve all heard of the baby blues, but what exactly are they? Are they different from postpartum depression, and how can a woman know whether or not her postpartum emotions are normal? These are all questions that many new mamas have, which is completely understandable. After all, we all want to know what’s going on with our bodies.

Fortunately, there are some answers. That said, the differences between normal postpartum moods, baby blues, and PPD may not be incredibly noticeable at first. Therefore, if you even think you are suffering from PPD, seeking help from a healthcare provider as soon as possible is always the best thing to do.

What Are the Baby Blues?

The baby blues are completely normal and something a huge percentage of new mamas experience. Typically, the baby blues last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, during which the new mother will feel big mood swings and heightened emotions, a large amount of stress, and/or extreme disappointment.

These feelings are caused by a variety of factors including adjusting hormones, lack of sleep, and the enormous life changes that are happening all around the new mother. Luckily, the baby blues will gradually go away on their own accord as the family finds their new normal.

What is Postpartum Depression?

PPD looks and feels very much like the baby blues. It may include increased and relentless negative feelings, lethargy and lack of motivation, and even harmful thoughts. Unfortunately PPD affects up to 1 in 7 new mothers. This condition does not tend to go away on its own and can be dangerous if left untreated.

Fortunately, there are treatments available, and by finding help, affected mothers will be able to live the happy life they dreamed of.

How Can I Tell the Difference?

Length of Time

The length of time that the negative emotions last is a pretty good indicator of whether or not you’re dealing with a case of PPD. As mentioned earlier, the baby blues will almost always go away after 2 weeks. Cases that last longer are likely to be full-fledged postpartum depression and should be treated as such.

Intensity of Emotions

Because it’s good to seek out treatment as soon as possible when it comes to postpartum depression, waiting for two full weeks may not be the best solution in some cases. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the intensity of a new mama’s negative emotions. If the mother seems to resent her child, or if she is having thoughts of harming herself of others, it’s time to find help.

Other signs a mother is experiencing PPD rather than baby blues include any and/or all of the following:

  • No motivation to do basic tasks

  • Constant crying or anger

  • Anxiety or panic attacks

What Should Be Done about PPD?

If you think you or a loved one is suffering from PPD, it’s very important that you seek out help. The best place to begin is with a primary care physician, midwife, or OBGYN. This care provider will be able to help solve the problem with prescriptions, referrals, or a combination of both.

One of the best ways to keep negative feelings at bay and make your postpartum weeks a bit easier is by hiring a postpartum doula. If you’d like more information on how a postpartum doula can help you, please contact me today!

What to do When Your Birth Doesn't Go as Planned.

Chelsea Gonzales

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Doing your research and knowing exactly how you would like your birth to go is always a good idea. In fact, I even recommend writing these thoughts down to create an easy-to-read and easy-to-share birth plan. This helps ensure that your desires are well known, and with the right birth team, many of those wishes will probably be met if at all possible.

That said, things don't always go according to plan. Problems crop up, little annoyances snowball into big emergencies, and some babies and bodies just have minds of their own. These things aren't necessarily common, but they do happen, and many times this means the initial birth plan must be modified to fit the situation.

While I don't recommend dwelling on the “what ifs”, I do think it's a good idea to consider what you will do should unplanned things happen during labor and delivery that steer your birth experience in another direction than originally planned. After all, there is no way for us to control everything, and being mentally prepared for unexpected issues can help ensure your experience is a positive one, even if it isn't exactly what you planned.

Wondering what you should do in case things do go awry? Consider these tips.

Before The Birth

Hire a Doula — A doula is an advocate for birthing women. For this reason, having a good doula is essential when issues arise. She can ensure that your birth plan stays as intact as possible while also providing you with reassurance.

Know Your Stuff — Soaking up as much information as possible about birth is also incredibly helpful. This will allow you to make informed decisions about your own body and health, as well as that of your baby.

Create a Backup Plan — Making a birth plan is great. Making a “Plan B” and even a “Plan C” is even better. Decide what you'd like to happen in case you decide you absolutely must have an epidural. What if a C-section is required? Having a plan for these things will still give you a bit of control even if your initial plan gets tossed to the side.

During the Birth

Keep Your Cool — If you do get news that your caretaker won't be able to sick to the original plan, take a deep breath and keep your cool. Remember that you are doing your very best, and your caretakers are there to keep you and your baby safe. Getting upset won't help anything, and may actually hurt baby by causing them distress.

Remind Caretakers of Your Plan — Reminding your birth team of your plan won't fix any problems that come up. However, that simple reminder might mean your team keeps your wishes in mind and sticks to the plan as much as possible.

Lean on Your Doula — Your doula is there to help you and advocate for you. Let her be the one to insist that measures be taken to mind your wishes whenever possible. Your doula will also be able to help you remain calm in stressful situations. Allow her to do her job.

After the Birth

Take Care of Yourself — Obviously, you'll be grateful about baby once they are born, and clearly you'll need to take care of and enjoy them. That said, it's also important to take care of yourself.

Remind yourself regularly of just how awesome you are and give yourself plenty of self-care time in order to reflect and heal mentally. Lastly, you'll want to watch out for signs of postpartum depression. A birth that doesn't go as planned can be a cause of depression, and PPD should be treated as soon as possible.

Are you looking for a doula to support you no matter how your birth goes? I'd love to chat! Please contact me today for a consultation. 

Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Chelsea Gonzales

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Postpartum depression is a serious issue for a surprisingly large number of women. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to catch the milder cases of PPD, and this—along with a few other factors—means a good many women aren’t given the help they deserve.

Why is postpartum depression so difficult to recognize? Well, this could be due to a couple of things.

First, a small amount of anxiety, stress, and even a short-lived, mild case of the baby blues can be normal. After all, your hormones are going through some pretty significant changes, and coupled with the enormous life changes being made, this can be overwhelming. Separating the usual overwhelmed feelings from true PPD can be difficult.

Another issue is that many new mothers will put on a happy face for family and friends. They may feel guilty or embarrassed about feeling down-in-the-dumps when they’ve just experienced the miracle of birth. Additionally, many mothers don’t want loved ones to worry about them.

Despite this, it’s important that we worry, and even more important that we learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. Nobody deserves to suffer through the postpartum months, and by taking steps to help the new mamas close to you (or yourself), you will help ensure the people in your life don’t either.

What to Look For

Wondering what you should be watching for? Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms:

Persistent Negative Feelings

Be sure to talk regularly with those who have just given birth. Ask how they’re feeling and validate their feelings. Never brush off a new mama’s feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness. If a woman in your life has just given birth and seems to have persistent feelings of sadness, panic, or hopelessness, she could be suffering from postpartum depression.

Lack of Desire to Care for Baby (or Herself)

Many depressed women have no desire to care for their newborns. Often, this will mean dad is left doing most of the work. Unfortunately, a mother who lacks the desire to care for her baby could be neglectful. Additionally, those with this problem often have no desire to care for themselves either, leading to a whole host of other problems.

Not Sleeping or Eating

An overly anxious or depressed mama may have trouble sleeping for any length of time, something that will quickly lead to more negative feelings. She may also have trouble eating anything at all. This is clearly an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later, especially if the mother is nursing.

Constant Fatigue

On the other end of the spectrum, many women who suffer from PPD simply want to sleep all the time. This constant fatigue will be apparent if your new-mama loved one is falling asleep on the couch or spending a large amount of time in bed.

What to Do

Of course, simply recognizing postpartum depression isn’t enough. Here’s what you should do if you suspect a person you care for is suffering from PPD:

Tell a Healthcare Professional

First and foremost, you will want to let a healthcare professional know about the problem. If you’re in a position to tell your loved one’s doctor yourself, do so. Otherwise, encourage the new mother to let her doctor know so they can work out a treatment plan.

Encourage Positive Activities

Of course, what your friend does in her day-to-day life is also important. Let her know it’s okay to carve out time for herself and encourage her to use that time to engage in uplifting activities. This might include reading a book, hanging out with friends, or simply journaling her feelings over coffee. Making time to do what makes her happy should help your friend cope a bit better.

In addition to this “me time” to do what she loves, those suffering with PPD should also take extra care to make time to:

  • Be outside
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Bond with baby
  • Provide Support

No person should be expected to battle depression on their own. Being available to support your friend or family member is more important than you might realize. In fact, a constant stream of support could be the most valuable thing she receives during this tough time.

Obviously, you can’t be available all the time. However, by joining forces with other friends and family members, and hiring a well-qualified postpartum doula, you will easily be able to give your loved one the love and care she needs.

Are you looking for a quality postpartum doula in the Oklahoma City area? Please contact me today to learn more about my after-birth support services.