Postpartum Mental Health

Having a baby can trigger a wide range of emotions. You may feel joyful one moment then anxious the next. This is usually normal; however, some experience long-lasting, severe symptoms. Nobody is at fault for any of it, but it is important to recognize the signs and get help. 

Explore this page to learn more about postpartum mental wellness and how to recognize red flags.

The "Baby Blues"

 

You may have complicated feelings about being a new parent. You may feel deep love for your baby, yet underslept and emotional. That does not make you a bad parent, it makes you human. 

After giving birth, many people experience a bout of sadness. This is sometimes called the baby, or postpartum, blues. This may look different in different people, but you may:

  • Cry a lot 

  • Feel cranky or moody

  • Have a hard time concentrating or making decisions

  • Feel overwhelmed

  • Have difficulty sleeping, despite being exhausted

The baby blues are temporary, so practice kindness and patience toward yourself as you adjust to a major life change and the dramatic changes in hormones that come with giving birth. Finding time to practice self-care is also an important way to help ease the symptoms.

The Baby Blues can last up to two weeks and is usually not a cause for concern. If your symptoms last longer than that, or they become more severe, it is time to call your doctor. 

 

Postpartum Depression and Warning Signs

For a small portion of the population, having a baby may bring something unexpected: depression. Always remember that anything you are feeling is not your fault, but it is important to get help in order to make sure that yourself, your baby, and all those around you are safe and healthy. 

To learn more about postpartum depression, and how it is screened, explore the section below. 

If you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else, call the Here2Help Crisis Line (410-433-5175) right away.

What is postpartum depression?


Postpartum depression is a kind of depression that some people get within a year after giving birth. Postpartum depression usually occurs right after giving birth. This can be intense feelings of sadness, worry, or fatigue. About 15% of people who give birth experience postpartum depression.




How do I know if I have postpartum depression?


Your doctor will screen you at your 6 week check up. They may ask you to complete a questionnaire like the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Because it can impact how you are bonding with your baby, your baby's pediatrician may also ask you some questions to make sure you are able to enjoy parenting. It is important to be as honest as possible in answering these questions--there is absolutely no shame in getting help and it is vital that you do so if you need it. If you think you may have postpartum depression, you do not have to wait to be screened--you can call your doctor and make an appointment right way.




What is the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues?


While many of the symptoms of the baby blues may sound like postpartum depression, there are some key differences. The first is that the symptoms of postpartum depression last longer. The baby blues may show up a couple of days after birth and usually go away within a week. Postpartum depression begins within a week of giving birth as well, but can last up to a year after starting. The second key difference is that the symptoms of postpartum depression are more severe. The baby blues may be disruptive, but typically do not impact your ability to parent or bond with your baby. Postpartum depression is not a regular part of becoming a new parent, so the more severe symptoms can impact how you care for yourself or your baby and impact bonding. The final key difference is the way that both are treated. While the baby blues will go away on their own, postpartum depression must be treated by a health professional. The most important similarity between the baby blues and postpartum depression is that neither are your fault, so be gentle with yourself.




What are some of the symptoms of postpartum depression?


Postpartum depression can show up differently in different people. The most important symptoms to pay attention to are those that are unusual, or big changes, for you. Feelings

  • Shame or like you're a failure
  • Fear or panic
  • Mood swings
  • Sadness or depression most of the day
  • Disconnect and difficulty bonding with your baby
Lifestyle changes
  • Eating more or less
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Changes in sleep (sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping)
  • Having a hard time making decisions
Remember, if you ever have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, immediately call the Here2Help Crisis Line at 410-433-5175.




What causes postpartum depression?


While there is no definite cause of postpartum depression, some researchers think it may be the dramatic changes in hormones after giving birth. While we may not be able to predict who will experience postpartum depression, there are some factors that may make some people more likely to experience postpartum depression. These include:

  • Having a personal or family history of depression
  • Not having support from friends and family
  • Relationship or money problems
  • Having a baby with special needs
  • Difficulty with breastfeeding
  • History of substance use
If any of these apply to you, make sure to let your doctor know so they can make sure to pay close attention to your symptoms and experiences.




How is postpartum depression treated?


Again, and we can't repeat this enough, postpartum depression is not your fault and no cause for shame. But, it is imporant that you talk to your doctor and get treatment as soon as possible. Untreated postpartum depression can affect your baby throughout childhood. Some examples of these effects include behavioral problems, difficulty bonding, and delays in language development. Treatment typically includes therapy and/or medication.





 
There is absolutely no shame in having trouble adjusting to parenting or experiencing postpartum depression. There are many people in Baltimore City who want you to ask for help and are ready to provide you support.  Here are some great resources for getting mental health support.

Postpartum Mental Wellness Resources

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Bloom Collective

Baltimore-based organization that believes that mamas and birthing persons deserve a village of support. Services include postpartum and breastfeeding support.

443-961-4990

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Motherland Co.

Services include psychotherapy and breastfeeding support.

410-513-9611

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Pro Bono Counseling Project

Free therapy with a licensed professional for Maryland families, couples and individuals with limited resources

410-825-1001
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Medicaid Covered and Low-Cost Resources

There are several resources throughout Baltimore City where you can get specialized support for postpartum depression.

To learn more, speak to your provider.

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Black Mental Health Alliance

Mental wellness support, including finding a therapist and healing racial trauma.

410-338-2642

Here2Help Hotline

If you are in crisis, this helpline will connect you to immediate help and services.

410-433-5175