Postpartum is a period in which there is an increased risk of suffering psychiatric disorders due to the fact that the mother has undergone important physical and hormonal changes. It is a period of change of vital role and adaptation to new circumstances that generate stress and can be the trigger of this type of pathology in a predisposed woman.
Postpartum depression is a serious condition caused by biological and psychosocial factors: bodily changes due to pregnancy and childbirth, changes in social and work relationships, new fit between partners, lack of sleep, fatigue, less time and availability for personal activities, since the new mother is practically devoted to the baby in the first weeks.
The symptoms are the following:
- Sadness, easy crying
- Loss of the ability to experience pleasure
- Excessive tiredness
- Hopelessness or feelings of guilt
- Insomnia or constant need for sleep
- Agitation or psychomotor slowing down
- Decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions
- Appetite disturbances (both loss and gain) and consequent weight gain or loss
- Excessive and inappropriate feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide or aggression toward the newborn
Postpartum depression is not to be confused with a passing episode of sadness or “postpartum blues” that mothers often experience in the first few days after birth. The symptoms are similar, less severe and resolve spontaneously within the first two weeks. This is why it is very important to interpret the symptoms well and to give them due importance, to prevent and treat them.
In this sense, here is the advice I give to my “new moms” and I extend it to all of you:
- Involve your partner in the care of the baby and household chores, ask for help if necessary from family or friends.
- Don’t try to do too much or be the perfect mom.
- Get as much rest as you can, sleep during the day while the baby sleeps.
- Talk about your feelings, if you feel sad, show it.
- Seek moments of intimacy with your partner, as the newborn takes all the attention and displaces the father, who also needs to find his new role.
- Find time to go out or visit friends, or some individual activity that does not include the baby.
- It is not convenient to make major life changes in the postpartum period, it is enough to adapt to being just one more person
- Let your maternal instinct guide you, and trust yourself. If you make a mistake, rectify it and don’t blame yourself.
- Don’t worry about your ability to be a good mother, I’m sure you are.
- Talk to other mothers or join a breastfeeding group if you need to.
and… if these tips don’t work, talk to your gynecologist.
Dra. Natàlia Garcia Montaner