New Moms And Postpartum Depression
Becoming a mother is the most profound experience any woman can have. However after 9 months of pregnancy and, sometimes, difficulties with conception, when that moment finally comes, some women find there are very often unexpected feelings of inconsolable sadness, darkness, feelings of unease, flights into unexplainable despair, rages, fear and panic which basically we now come to call Postpartum Depression.
There are many reasons for this phenomenon. The most common are hormonal shifts and for some the trauma of a difficult birth. Both wreak havoc on the brain and the nervous system. There is also a sense that this long anticipated event is done and there can be a possible sense of a letdown. Often times the moment of baby’s arrival and subsequent days and hours are challenging, especially to a new mother. Some women may experience a sense of inadequacy in not knowing exactly how to care for the infant. Another reason for many is the pain experienced after childbirth, whether it is due to severe trauma to the pelvic area and stitching or due to C-Section. For many mothers there is also a weight issue, which can take time to resolve, but can effect self-esteem and make a new mom feel unattractive.
Some of the new mothers I have seen in my practice developed obsessive thoughts about hurting the baby which were tormenting and quite severe. Other mothers were extremely afraid that somehow their actions will hurt or kill the baby.
I have also seen cases when a new mother is not willing to let anyone near the baby or hold the new baby. It still feels like the baby is part of them and not a separate person. They may also have fears that another person, including the father will somehow hurt the baby.
Another potential area of depression is when a mother has difficulties with breast feeding or has inability to get the baby to latch on to the breast. This is often associated with feelings of guilt and failure as a new mother.
Depression at times can also occur when bonding with the newborn does not occur immediately and takes time. This leads to feelings of being a bad mother and a terrible person. This almost always this resolves itself.
Finally there is lack of sleep which can cause depression due to exhaustion and irritability with those around, which may lead to conflict with spouse and family.
Some or most of these feelings and issues should resolve fairly quickly. If months and months go by, and the depression or obsessive thinking and behavior does not get better, it is a good idea to seek professional help. Talking this out with a therapist familiar with these issues can be immensely helpful. Normalizing the feelings and or uncovering possible underlying causes of these symptoms can speed up the recovery, and sometimes, an antidepressant is in order as well in particularly extreme cases.