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Your body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. Postpartum depression or postnatal depression occurs after the baby is born and can last from 2 weeks, to several months or even years. It currently affects more than 1 in 10 women and it can start at any moment during the first year after giving birth.
Many women feel tired, anxious and a bit down during the first two weeks after the baby is born. This is called “baby blues” and it can also affect partners and fathers. If this feelings last longer than two weeks and you continue to feel down, to have problems focusing on the baby’s needs and to be quite moody, it can be that you go through postpartum depression.
Signs of postpartum depression
- According to www.nhs.uk , the following symtomps can be signs of postpartum depression:
- a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
- lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
- trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- difficulty bonding with your baby
- withdrawing from contact with other people
- problems concentrating and making decisions
- frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
What causes postpartum depression?
During pregnancy, the levels of your hormones, progesterone and oestrogen change. They will be at their highest. In the first 24 hours after giving birth, they will drop back to normal, pre-pregnancy levels. Specialists believe that this sudden fluctuation leads to depression. It is similar to what women experience before their period. However, during and after pregnancy there are more extreme hormone swings.
Levels of thyroid hormones also drop after giving birth. Low levels of thyroide hormones can lead to depression. A blood test can tell you if you suffer from this condition or not.
Other feelings can contribute to postpartum depression. Many women report that they feel:
- tired after labour and delivery
- lack sleep
- feel anxious about their abilities to be a good mother
- Stress from changes in work and home routines
- An unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
- Grief about loss of who they were before having the baby
- Less attractive
- A lack of free time
Whilst these feelings common among mothers, they should not be normal and not every mother should expect having them. They should not be regular and postnatal depression is a real health condition that deserves treatment. It does not only affect the mother but the baby’s health and development.
Are some women more at risk of having postpartum depression?
- Have a personal history of depression or bipolar disorder
- Have a family history of depression or bipolar disorder
- Do not have support from family and friends
- Were depressed during pregnancy
- Had problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
- Have relationship or money problems
- Are younger than 20
- Have alcoholism, use illegal drugs, or have some other problem with drugs
- Have a baby with special needs
- Have difficulty breastfeeding
- Had an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
Your body goes through many changes during and after pregnancy. The hormone swings impact your feelings and you can jump from feeling all positive and happy, to feeling moody and upset. The act of giving birth is a gift but it can also be a difficult experience for some women. Many women report feeling exhausted afterwards. The lack of sleep in combination with the extreme hormone swing makes that you may feel quite low and depressed. “Baby blues” can last up to two weeks after giving birth and you should not worry about this. Nevertheless, if these symptoms last longer and they stop you from taking care of your child, you feel careless, moody and tired, this means that you might have postpartum depression. It deserves the attention of a specialist as it does not only affect your health but it will affect baby’s health and development as well. If you want to read more about postpartum depression, click here.