Welcome to motherhood! Your little bundle of joy has arrived, and you may be faced with a myriad of feelings - happiness, relief, hope, as well as concerns, exhaustion, and uncertainty. Motherhood brings multiple demands and expectations. You are expected to be a good mother - one that is responsive to her child, knows how to comfort and nurture her baby. But what if you don't feel at all comfortable? What if you feel sad and exhausted and not sure about what to do for your baby? If you are feeling this way, you are definitely not alone. It is not unusual for new moms to feel sad, tired and unsure of their parenting skills. In fact, many new moms go through these feelings, and as many as 80% may experience the "baby blues." Baby blues are characterized by periods of crying for no apparent reason, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and restlessness. Thankfully, these symptoms usually diminish approximately within 3-7 days of delivery.
For some women, however, these feelings may persist and even increase over time. This is no longer part of the "baby blues," but may signal a more serious illness, post-partum depression. Approximately 10-15% of women may experience post-partum depression after giving birth. Symptoms usually begin within the first three months after birth, but can surface anytime within a year after the baby's birth. There is a period of at least two weeks of depressed mood or loss of interest in all activities, and at least some other symptoms, including:
While the feelings associated with post partum depression can be difficult, they do not have to be permanent. There are effective treatments for post-partum depression. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, call your doctor immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms subside on their own. Your doctor may recommend any of the following:
Post-Partum Depression Facts (PDF) - From the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Maternal and Infant Mental Health Advisory Committee
Latina Moms and Post-Partum Depression (PDF) - How Might Post-Partum Depression Impact Latina Mothers?
Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) - Post-Partum Depression