I'm a chocolate-loving nutritionist, pre & postnatal coach, doula and let's face it- total birth nerd 🤓. I'm here to help you cut through mommy-marketing and pinterest perfection to confidently cultivate a pregnancy and postpartum experience you totally love.
Maternal Mental Health: Is It Baby Blues or Something More?
As someone who has experienced PMADs (perinatal mood & anxiety disorder) and had NO idea what the heck was going on or who to talk to, maternal mental health hits very close to home.
Here’s the truth: the first several weeks of postpartum are both wonderful and very hard. We see a lot of the wonderful, peaceful baby snuggles on good ol’ instagram, but what about the rest?
There’s a very real lack of sleep, huge hormonal shifts as your body goes from pregnant to milk-making mode, and not to mention you’ve introduced a whole new (very demanding and very cute) tiny human into your family.
So if it feels hard or even impossible, you aren’t doing it wrong. But how do we know if we are experiencing “normal” hard or if there’s something else more extreme happening?
About 80% of postpartum people will experience something called the baby blues. The baby blues are feelings of sadness and moodiness that typically happen in the first few weeks postpartum. Again the huge hormonal shifts (specifically estrogen plummeting around day 3 postpartum) and the lack of sleep play a big role in this. But it should get better.
If it doesn’t, this could be a sign of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (the most commonly referred to as postpartum depression). And about 15% of postpartum people will develop PMADs.
So how do you know which is which? The biggest indicator is time.
The baby blues start 3-5 days after birth, last for about 2 weeks, and resolve on their own.
You may feel moody, weepy, cranky, sad, cry a lot, feel overwhelmed, and like you aren’t doing a good job. But over time these feelings level out or dissipate.
Signs that it may be postpartum depression & anxiety
Feelings of extreme sadness or anxiety that last a long time after birth.
Depression, guilt or shame, panic or anxiety,
Extreme mood swings.
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Trouble bonding with your baby
Considering self-harm or thoughts of harming your baby.
Postpartum depression requires a medical diagnosis and care from a licensed professional. If you are experiencing ANY of these symptoms please please please reach out to your healthcare provider. This is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and should absolutely not be navigated alone.
Regardless of whether you’re struggling with baby blues or PMADs, you did NOTHING WRONG.
These are all things we support in the Badass Birthers Club— figuring out how to ask for help, what to delegate, what brings you joy and makes you feel like you, and when (and who!) to ask for professional support.
Experiences of anxiety, depression, stress, should be normalized just as much as joy, snuggles and cuddles, and the Instagram-able moments.
You are not alone in this and it is okay to ask for help.