Post Partum Issues for Mom

The time when a new baby arrives is filled with so much joy and excitement, but for more than half of all new moms; the time is also filled with dread, worry, anxiety and frustration. Post partum disorders are a very real occurrence that can affect anyone from the first time mom to the 4th time mom. Doctors have reported 3 different types of disorders that new moms may experience after bringing home a new baby. If you or someone you know may be dealing with a post partum disorder, please consult a doctor, a counselor or inform someone close to you.

Baby Blues:

Baby blues is the most common type of post partum disorder that new moms may experience. Anywhere from 70-85% of new moms will experience these blues that can last a few hours or up to a few weeks after giving birth. The most common symptoms are sudden mood swings, irritability, restlessness, crying spells, anxiety, loneliness and feelings of sadness. Normally the symptoms will subside on their own and rarely require more than some rest and lots of support.

Post Partum Depression:

Some women will have symptoms that progress longer than two weeks and are more intense than those of baby blues. These symptoms are called Post Partum Depression or PPD, and affect 10-20% of women. Symptoms can develop a few days to a few weeks after delivery. Symptoms will include those of baby blues but will be severe enough to keep a woman from being able to accomplish every day tasks. Other more serious symptoms can include suicidal thoughts, inability to cope, hopelessness and despondency. PPD can be treated with medication and counseling, but if left untreated can last up to 18 months after delivery and become more severe.

Post Partum Psychosis:

Post partum depression can develop into a more severe condition called Post Partum Psychosis. Post partum psychosis will affect 1 out of 1,000 woman and usually develops within 3 months of childbirth. Symptoms will include: deep sadness, irritability, apathy, intense anxiety, lack of appetite, crying spells, irrational behavior, impaired concentration, delusions, visual hallucinations, insomnia and a lost touch with reality. Treatment for post partum psychosis can include psychotherapy, medication, and sometimes hospitalization.

Cause of Post Partum Disorders:

There is not one known cause linked to post partum disorders. These disorders can affect women from all ages, all ethnicity’s, and all socio- economic status. Some believe that the symptoms are triggered by hormonal changes that accompany childbirth. Research also shows that those with a family history of depression are at higher risk of developing a post partum disorder. Other contributing factors might be:

  • An un-planned pregnancy
  • Complicated/difficult labor
  • Fetal anomaly
  • Lack of support
  • Recent life change including death of a loved one, a job change or a move

All post partum disorders are treatable and education is one of the best tools. There are many helpful websites that provide extensive information on these disorders.

Information obtained from American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Last updated: 12/2006