Postpartum Depression: How to Spot It

As many as 15% of new mums suffer from postpartum mood disorders, including postpartum depression. You may have heard people talk about the baby blues, and the impact of postpartum hormonal changes on mood, but postpartum depression is more than that.

It’s important to be able to recognise the signs of postpartum depression in yourself and others, because the sooner this condition is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.

It is not known what causes postpartum depression. Having a baby is a life-changing and stressful event. Exhaustion and stress are almost inevitable as you adjust to life as a new parent, and this may play a part in the onset of postpartum depression. Hormonal changes also contribute. You have an increased risk of developing postpartum depression if you:

  • have a family history of depression
  • have a personal history of depression or other mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder

Symptoms of postpartum depression

The symptoms of postnatal depression most often begin during the first two months after the birth, but may start any time in the first year postpartum. You may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • persistent low moods
  • persistent feeling of sadness
  • loss of interest in the world around you
  • inability to feel joy
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • inability to concentrate and/or make decisions
  • low self-confidence
  • loss of interest in food, or comfort eating
  • feelings of guilt
  • suicidal thoughts
  • self-harming
  • frightening thoughts

Around half of all sufferers experience frightening thoughts of harming their baby. These thoughts are part of the condition, and do not mean you are a bad mother. It is rare for either mother or baby to be harmed as a result of postpartum depression.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose the condition by asking a series of questions. Some women are scared to seek help because they worry that their babies will be taken from them. In reality it is very, very rare for babies to be taken from their mothers because of postpartum depression. This would only ever occur in very exceptional circumstances.

Your healthcare provider is best placed to advise you on treatment options, and this will depend on the severity of your condition. Treatment options include:

  • counseling and therapy
  • medication

There are things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms of postpartum depression, for example:

  • talk about how you feel – whether it’s to your partner, friends, family or a group for sufferers, talking about your feelings may help
  • exercise – this is a proven way to treat depression, so try to exercise a few times a week
  • get out of the house – if you’re feeling low and want to hide indoors, try to force yourself to leave the house. Even just taking a quick stroll around the block can help
  • eat healthily – skipping meals and eating poorly can make you feel worse, so try to eat a healthy balanced diet
  • rest – get as much sleep as you can. If you can’t sleep, rest instead
  • accept help from friends and family

It can be hard to admit you are suffering from postpartum depression, and telling other people about it can be even harder. Try to remember, telling your healthcare provider is the first step on the road to recovery.

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Help! I’m Not Enjoying Motherhood

Motherhood, like pregnancy, is meant to be filled with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, right? Moms are always happy and filled with joy. After all, motherhood is the best job is the world. Isn’t it?

Erm, no, not always. Sometimes motherhood sucks. Sometimes being a mom is all about being covered in crap, cleaning up puke and listening to babies scream. It’s not always fun or wonderful, like anything else in life, it has its bad days.

It’s perfectly ok for you to not love every minute of motherhood. Singing nursery rhymes and spending hours talking about poop isn’t for everyone. Looking after a baby all day can be tough. The baby can’t talk back, so you may find yourself feeling bored at times. You may also find the repetitive chores of diaper changes and feeds to be tiring sometimes, especially when they seem to fill your entire day.

Here are a few things to try if you feel you’re not enjoying motherhood:

  1. Let go of the guilt

There is nothing wrong with not loving motherhood. You’re allowed to have bad days. You’re allowed to have days where you don’t want to change another diaper. You can have days where you’re bored out of your mind. It’s fine, it’s normal. Every mom feels like that sometimes. You don’t need to feel guilty because you’re not a picture of the joyous mom you see represented in the media. You’re a real person, you’re going to have bad days.

  1. Talk about it

You don’t need to keep these feelings to yourself. This isn’t a hideous secret you need to take to your grave. In fact, talking about it with friends might just help you to see how normal these feelings are. You’re not a terrible mom, you’re just like everybody else. Speak to your close friends about how you feel, and let your partner in on it too. While your mom friends will be able to reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal, your partner may be able to free up a little me-time for you so you can de-stress.

  1. Get out of the house

A change of scenery can do the world of good when you’re having a bad day. If it’s just you and the baby stuck at home all day, getting out of the house might cheer you up. Pack your diaper bag, grab your handbag and head off on an adventure. You could meet up with some mom friends for a coffee or head out for a walk in the countryside. Do whatever you think will lift your mood. You deserve a treat, being a mom isn’t easy, so head out and enjoy yourself.

  1. Recognize your triumphs

It’s easy to obsess over your perceived feelings. If you feel like everything is going wrong at the moment, that’s probably more to do with your mood than anything else. When you feel negative, it’s all too easy to only see the negative things around you. Spend some time focusing on the good things in life. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Make a list of all the reasons you’re a great mom and refer to it whenever you’re feeling down.

  1. Ask for help

If you’re worried that perhaps the way you’re feeling isn’t normal, you should ask your healthcare provider for advice. Postpartum depression is treatable, but you need to reach out for help before you can get treatment. Nobody will judge you for speaking up, so be honest and ask for help if you think you need it.

Do you sometimes feel like you’re not enjoying motherhood?

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

Making Peace With Your Birth Experience

You wait 9 long months. You write a birth plan and attend childbirth classes. You practice relaxation exercises and get your birth partner on board. Then birth happens. Maybe you have a long labor – or even a very short one. Maybe it was more difficult than you imagined, or you felt violated in some way by the healthcare system or providers. Maybe you needed an unplanned cesarean surgery. Maybe baby or you were in need of advanced medical care afterwards.

Whatever the situation, you look down at the baby in your arms and wonder why you feel so bad about your birth experience.

Birth is an amazing, transformative experience. Birth changes you from a woman to a mother. And it profoundly affects how you feel about your own mind and body – was it an empowering experience or was it disabling? Did it leave you feeling like you can conquer the world, or like you want to crawl into a cave to hide? How we perceive our births changes how we feel about ourselves and our babies.

Postpartum hormones may be partially to blame for your weepiness or feelings of sadness or inadequacy in the days after birth. But your lived experience is also in play. Renowned pediatrician, William Sears, writes, “It’s okay to be happy about your healthy baby but sad about your birth. Unresolved birth memories have a way of gnawing at your insides, affecting your sense of who you are.” Dealing with those feelings is an important step in moving forward as a mom.

Emotions are subjective – there’s no right or wrong way to feel about your birth. There’s only the reality of how it feels for you. Once you accept that, you can work to heal. If you’re having trouble getting past your birth experience, try one or more of the following:

Forgive yourself: Labor and birth are unpredictable. While you can plan for what you might do in certain situation, you cannot control every aspect. Don’t blame yourself for things that did not go as planned. Let go of all the “If only I had …” thoughts.

Get the details: Ask your partner, doula or healthcare provider to tell you about your birth with just the facts. Or obtain your medical records. Don’t judge any of the details, just record them as you’re told. Consider what you remember and write that down. Once you have a detailed chronology of how your birth unfolded, you can better explore where your feelings of anger, resentment or inadequacy come from.

Grieve the loss: You may wonder why you would grieve if you’ve got a beautiful baby at home. But the feelings of loss may be the same – you are grieving the loss of the woman you imagined yourself to be. And while that self-image doesn’t define who you are, it can impact how you interact with others, including your baby. Stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You may go through only some of these stages, or you may experience them all. They are not likely to come in any certain order. Every woman’s grieving experience is different – there are no set rules.

Talk it out: Whether you attend a local support group or find an online forum, you will learn that many women have a less-than-desired birth. Just talking about your birth with others who can empathize helps you to work through your feelings about the experience. Or you might feel more comfortable talking to people you feel closest to: your partner, your own mother, or a close friend. If you cannot get past your feelings of loss or grief, professional counseling may be useful.

Change your story: Start by putting your story down on paper. Write it all out – the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t censor yourself. Think about how you feel in the retelling, but don’t let that change what you’re writing. Notice what parts make you feel judgmental of yourself, and which parts make you happy, relieved or grateful. Then set it aside for a few days. Now go back and reread. What parts still bother you, and what parts have you forgiven? Think about how you might choose different words to describe your experience, and whether that changes how you feel about the event. Or take the parts about which you still feel negative and brainstorm what you have learned from them.

Tincture of time: As time passes, and as your mothering experience grows and expands with your baby, the details of your birth will lose their rough edges. You may still look back on them with regret, but the sensations won’t necessarily be so visceral. Keep in mind post-traumatic stress disorder may be a consequence of a bad birth experience. Dealing with your feelings – whether on your own or with professional help – is important so that the memories triggered with a future pregnancy or birth don’t lead to complications.

If healing is taking longer than expected or if you think you have symptoms of postpartum depression, consider professional support. (For more information about postpartum mood disorders, visit Postpartum Support International).


Written by Michelle, Lamaze instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.