You’ve heard of postpartum depression (PPD). You may have an idea of what to expect – you’ve faced depression and/or anxiety before pregnancy. You or your family may have a history of mental illness. Still when PPD happens to you, it’s scary…and surprising.
Fear, yes. Anxiety, yes. But depression? Absolutely not! You’re not supposed to be depressed or – for some moms – suicidal.
So why is your bundle of joy, a bundle of misery?
The most surprising thing about PPD is the depression part. This is supposed to be the happiest time in your life – you had a baby! However, we’re conditioned to believe that any other feeling is abnormal, anti-maternal.
Here are other surprising facts you may not know about PPD.
PPD is just one of several perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, or postpartum mood disorders (PPMD).
There’s also postpartum anxiety (PPA), postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (PPOCD), postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PPTSD), bipolar mood disorder, and postpartum psychosis (PPP).
The “baby blues” are different from PPD.
“Baby blues” happen to many women during or after the birth of a child. A whopping 50 to 85 percent of moms experience the “baby blues” following childbirth and lasting anywhere from a few hours to two weeks. If you’re feeling blue more than two weeks, talk to your doctor.
PPD isn’t uncommon.
The research out there will make you feel less alone. The American Psychological Association reports that up to 1 in 7 new moms experience a major mood disorder. Another comforting statistic is that the percentage of women with PPD could be as high as 20%, according Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit organization. The numbers are based on self reporting, so the percentage could be even higher as some women are too ashamed or afraid to report PPD.
PPD can happen with your second child, even if it didn’t with your first one.
Just because you didn’t get it with your first child doesn’t mean you won’t with a subsequent birth. This is one of the most surprising of the surprising facts. Get informed about PPD, so you know what to expect when you’re not expecting.
PPD happens during pregnancy.
PPD and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can occur during your pregnancy, before you have the baby. Don’t be fooled by the post in postpartum depression.
PPD might not develop right after the child’s birth.
PPD can happen anytime in the baby’s first year of life, up to 12 months after the baby was born.
PPD can affect dads too.
Yes, dads can get postpartum depression too. PPD is not the same as dads feeling “down in the dumps”. PPD is when you have moderate to severe symptoms of depression and/or anxiety that interfere with your ability to care for yourself and/or bond with your baby.
Extreme sleep deprivation may bring on PPD.
Yeah, no sh!t. Recruit the help of your partner or loved one and get that body in bed ASAP. Just be sure you can get up when you want out.
Breastfeeding may help protect you from developing PPD.
This is a touchy issue (no pun intended). More research needs to be done in this area. Does breastfeeding help manage your mood? Is there a lower incidence of PPD among new moms who breastfeed for 6 months? 12 months? A coincidence or a correlation? I say it’s complicated.
The pressure to breastfeed can exacerbate PPD symptoms. The inability to breastfeed (or the choice to not breastfeed) may cause new mothers to feel depressed, anxious, and/or guilty.
PPP is very rare.
You see postpartum psychosis featured on the news, which makes it seem ubiquitous, but actually PPP rarely occurs. Women with PPMDs may underreport their symptoms because they fear others will believe they are, “a bad mom”, a danger to themselves and their children.
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
You’re not alone. PPD is a complication of birth not a defect of character.
So don’t be afraid or ashamed. You are mom enough. You are a goddess. You just made a human. It will take time for your body and mind to heal.
What’s your view from the bed today, bleak or bright?