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.
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
- 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.