You’ve just had a baby. You expected to be basking in new mom bliss. You expected to be celebrating the arrival of your little one with your friends and family. But instead of celebrating, you feel like crying. You were prepared for joy and excitement, not exhaustion, anxiety, and weepiness.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of both baby blues and postpartum depression before giving birth is necessary for any expecting mum and dad. While baby blues is a short-lived mood changes, postpartum depression is more severe and persistent.
The Baby Blues
During the first week after childbirth, many women get what’s often called the ‘baby blues’. Women can feel down or depressed at a time when they expect they should feel happy at having a baby to look after. ‘Baby blues’ are probably due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that take place in your body after childbirth.
Symptoms can include:
- feeling emotional and irrational
- bursting into tears for no apparent reason
- feeling irritable or touchy
- feeling depressed or anxious
All these symptoms are normal and usually only last for a few days.
Post-Natal Depression (PND)
Depression after a baby is born can be extremely distressing. Postnatal depression is thought to affect around one in 10 women (and up to four in 10 teenage mothers).
Many women suffer in silence. Their friends, relatives and health professionals don’t know how they’re feeling.
Postnatal depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after the birth, though sometimes it can happen up to a year after the baby is born.
Symptoms such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite are normal if you’ve just had a baby. But these are usually mild and don’t stop you leading a normal life.
When you have postnatal depression, you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent. Looking after yourself or your baby may become too much.
Emotional signs of postnatal depression may include:
- loss of interest in the baby
- feelings of hopelessness
- not being able to stop crying
- feelings of not being able to cope
- not being able to enjoy anything
- memory loss or being unable to concentrate
- excessive anxiety about the baby
Other signs of postnatal depression may also include:
- panic attacks
- extreme tiredness
- aches and pains
- feeling generally unwell
- loss of appetite
If you think you have postnatal depression, don’t struggle alone. It’s not a sign that you’re a bad mother or are unable to cope. Postnatal depression is an illness and you need to get help, just as you would if you had the flu or a broken leg. Talk to someone you trust, such as your partner or a friend and most definitely, your doctor.