Before we dive into all of the signs and symptoms that may indicate postpartum depression, let’s get real. Being prepared doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you and ignoring it doesn’t mean it won’t. So, it’s best we all know the risks, but don’t dwell on them. Easier said than done of course, but something we can’t do is know the future and something we can do is deal with it when it comes (even things like PMDD.) There are solutions, there is community and you’re normal. So let out a deep breath and let’s dive in.
- Mood swings
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulty bonding with baby
Okay, it’s one thing to look at a list of symptoms, but what do these actually mean and how can you apply them to your life? Aren’t we all crying and not sleeping post-birth? When do we know it’s PPD? The answer is actually simpler than you might think: when it becomes a problem for you or for those around you. If you’re crying all day every day and feel that it’s not normal and especially if you’re feeling disconnected from your baby or feeling insurmountable guilt and anxiety surrounding motherhood, it’s time to check in with yourself and a professional. Even if you’re just feeling overwhelmed by everything, talk with someone you trust about it – even if it’s someone you meet on an online forum!
What makes this hard for us is the shame. Both the shame society places on us and that we place on ourselves, but here are some sentences you might need to hear: you’re not a bad mom if you feel disconnected from your baby right now. You’re not a bad mom if you only feel sadness in your experience with motherhood. You know what good moms do? They take time to make sure they’re okay themselves because that’s how you can be the best mom. Ask for help, even if you just want to start with asking family. If you think you may have PPD, seek professional help. It’s not shameful and despite what you may tell yourself: it makes you a pretty great mom to get the help you need or want.
P.S. Just feeling any of these things is a good time to ask for help from your partner, spouse or family and friends. You don’t have to have PPD to deserve help and you don’t have to do it all on your own.
What puts a woman at higher risk for PPD? Can you prevent PPD?
Now that we know what PPD is and can look like, let’s get to the questions our worrying minds want to know. Who’s at a higher risk and is there any way to prevent PPD?
You’re at a higher risk for PPD if you’ve experienced/experience:
- Depression during or before pregnancy (your changes are a lot higher however, if you specifically suffered from depression during pregnancy)
- Anxiety during pregnancy
- Inadequate social support
- Poor marital relationship
- Childcare stress
- Difficult infant temperament
These risk factors are often things we can’t control, which means there’s not much we can do to prevent PPD. However, generally speaking, we can do our best to take care of ourselves and the things we can control:
- Eat well and get adequate rest
- Exercise (even just 15 minutes a day can improve your overall mood)
- Prepare for postpartum help beforehand (have your 3 go-to people, if you can, to help when you need it)
- Find community resources (whether you have a support team around you or not, online communities can be a great place to bond with other mothers going through the same experiences, but make sure to set boundaries there, too)
- Enlist support during birth
- Try not to make major life changes before or immediately after birth
Wanna know something? Whether you have PPD, feel overwhelmed by motherhood or have baby blues, you’re a normal and good mom. Getting the help you need can only make you better. Surround yourself with good people who believe that, too. Searching for community? Start here. Comment below if you’re a mom who other moms can reach out to or if you have any community resources you’d love to share for new mamas. Let’s all be here for one another.