Postpartum Depression

What are some signs that I might be experiencing postpartum depression?

A sign you’re experiencing postpartum depression is a change in functioning— that’s really how doctors decide whether or not you’re depressed. How much time are you spending really not feeling well? Are you really feeling down or sad, crying? Anxiety can be a common thing that happens with postpartum depression, so other signs include feeling a lot more anxious than normal, feeling that your thoughts are racing so much that you can’t fall asleep even when the baby is sleeping. Feeling excessively guilty or feeling that anything that goes wrong is your fault can be a sign of postpartum depression. And really just, not feeling yourself, and not feeling up to doing things in a way that is bigger than just feeling tired after a baby is born.

Is postpartum depression common?

Postpartum depression is more common than most people think. We think that about 15-20% of new moms experience some level of postpartum depression. And depression severe enough to need treatment is present in anywhere from 10-15% of new moms. The good news is that it is also really treatable. So, we definitely recommend that you talk about it with your provider, with your friends, with your family if you think you have it.

Is it normal to cry every day after you give birth?

Crying every day after you give birth is not always a normal thing to do, so it’s important that you look and see what else is going on. Not all crying is about being depressed. It’s pretty normal to have what we call baby blues, which is your brain adjusting to the hormonal shifts that happen after delivery. That usually goes away after a couple of days. This could cause a lot of extra crying or even a lot of extra laughing. A lot of emotions can happen the first couple of days after babies are born. But if it lasts longer than just a couple of days, and it comes along with really feeling sad or guilty or even like life isn’t worth living, that’s definitely a sign that you want to talk to your doctor right away because it could be postpartum depression.

What can I do if I’m too frustrated that my baby won’t stop crying?

Babies cry a lot. Most of the time, it’s that they are healthy babies who just are crying to let you know that they need something. But sometimes it is hard to know what a baby needs. And sometimes even when you do change the baby, feed the baby, make sure you are trying to rock the baby so that the baby can take a nap, your baby just won’t stop crying, and it’s really frustrating. It is very important to make sure that you never shake a baby or hit a baby. Even a small shake could cause very serious damage. One thing that is really important to know is that everyone gets frustrated, and if you feel that you are getting too frustrated you should make sure that the baby is in a safe space like a crib, bassinet, or playard. Then step away from the baby and take some deep breaths until you feel like you are ready to hold the baby again.

Where can I find more information on postpartum depression?

In Massachusetts we are really lucky to have a project that can help your doctor in terms of deciding whether or not you have postpartum depression and what kind of treatments there are for postpartum depression. That project is called MCPAP for moms. They have a website, that has a lot of information not only for your doctor, and certainly you can suggest that your doctor take a look at it, but also for you about postpartum depression. On the website, there are links to all kinds of information nationally, as well as locally, that you can access there. Certainly if you don’t have internet access, going to your public library would be a good place to start and your doctor really should have a lot of information about postpartum depression. You can also call the Postpartum Support International HelpLine at 1-800-944-4773.

Why is it important to talk to your baby?

It is important to talk to your baby because it stimulates their brain. The human brain when it’s born is very mature, and reading to the baby, singing, talking helps to stimulate and create connections in their brain early on. So even before the baby is delivered, it is recommended to talk to the baby and to listen to music. All of those things are going to create a smarter kid. In conjunction with breastfeeding, those are fundamental elements for human nature and for the brain to mature. Sometimes new parents don’t know what to do, they look at the baby and they think that it’s just this creature that just eats and poops, and in reality, babies are much more than that. It’s important to understand that they have senses that need to be stimulated, so it’s important to keep that going.

Reading to your baby is also important starting from the moment they are born. You can check out the program at the Worcester Public Library called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten to start reading now with your baby. The Worcester Family Partnership also has many programs for new parents and young babies and children to promote reading and playing together. You can call them at 508-799-3136 for more information.