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Postpartum Depression pose health risks for mother and infant and impair family relationships.
Postpartum Counseling Checklist: Messages for New Mothers About Emotional Health
- “Baby blues” and anxiety are common in the first week postpartum.
- Postpartum mood changes are not the fault of the mother.
- Nutritional adjustment, sleep, and exercise may help in managing mood swings.
- Awareness of predisposing risk factors may help mothers identify symptoms earlier.
Timeframe for postpartum mood disorders
- “Blues” peak approximately three to five days postpartum and disappear within a couple of weeks after the baby is born.
- Postpartum depression usually develops within the first three months postpartum but may occur later (up to one year after childbirth).
- Incidence of hang-ups peaks within the first few weeks after childbirth.
- Effective strategies exist for preventing and managing postpartum mood disorders.
- Early identification of postpartum mood disorders is important.
- Reassurance of support will mitigate risk.
Baby blues refers to commonly occurring mood swings or mild feelings of sadness after childbirth. Also called postpartum reactivity, these feelings usually peak approximately three to five days postpartum and disappear within a couple of weeks after the baby is born. Postpartum depression, a far more serious disorder, usually develops within the first three months postpartum but may develop any time during the first year and includes symptoms such as low mood, sleep disturbance, and poor functioning. PPD affects up to 20 percent of postpartum women.
Hormonal changes are theorized to be a causative factor in postpartum mood disorders, and such changes may affect women predisposed to the development of mood disorders most. The stress of dealing with a newborn, lack of sleep, and nutritional deficiencies may exacerbate the problem.
Some women may experience depressive or anxiety-related symptoms when they breastfeed or encounter difficulties with the breastfeeding experience. Similarly, when a woman stops breastfeeding, she may experience these symptoms, likely because of significant hormonal shifts. Many women also may feel sadness and a sense of loss after they stop nursing.
Even women who exhibit no signs of depression, anxiety, or maladjustment at the time of the postpartum follow-up visit need to be educated about the ongoing risk of mood disorders beyond the initial month or two following childbirth. Hormonal shifts that can trigger mood swings or depression may occur at any time during the first year postpartum.
Here are some of the steps that a woman can take to help ward off depression or anxiety and promote general health:
- Get enough rest
- Call on family and friends for help
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Get regular exercise
- Consider joining a mothers’ or postpartum support group
- Delay going back to work for at least six weeks postpartum
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