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
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.
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.
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.
Shame or like you're a failure
Fear or panic
Sadness or depression most of the day
Disconnect and difficulty bonding with your baby
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
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
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.
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
Baltimore-based organization that believes that mamas and birthing persons deserve a village of support. Services include postpartum and breastfeeding support.
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.
Black Mental Health Alliance
Mental wellness support, including finding a therapist and healing racial trauma.