Giving birth is full of often clashing emotions, from overwhelming happiness to anxiety, and everything in between. After all, bringing life into this world, and the work that comes afterward is no easy feat. Books, family, friends, co-workers, pretty much everyone will tell you all about what you’ll feel during pregnancy, the pros and cons of breastfeeding, what those first steps feel like, or the first words, but there’s something that nobody seems to mention: Postpartum Depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Giving birth is a complicated process that puts your body through a lot of stress and a lot of emotions. It’s natural, then, to feel “off” afterward. In fact, for some two weeks after giving birth, it’s normal and common for new moms to get the Baby Blues, which can take the form of anything from crying fits to mood swings and insomnia. These symptoms usually go away in these first two weeks after giving birth, but they don’t always. Sometimes, these same symptoms are more intense and last much longer. If this happens, chances are your baby blues might actually be a more serious condition: postpartum depression, or PPD.
What Does PPD Look Like?
One of the main and most worrying indicators of PPD is that the symptoms get intense enough to interfere with a new mom’s ability to raise and even connect with her child, and to complete other regular tasks.
Symptoms are varied and can take lots of different forms, but according to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms can include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
While all of these symptoms are spelled out, it’s important to note too that symptoms might appear a few days after birth or even months after, up to even a year afterward. Moms suffering from PPD might also not feel the weight of the symptoms 24/7—they can have good days! This can be confusing, too, because it can feel like things are getting better, which can make resurfacing symptoms feel that much worse.
Fathers Can Get PPD Too
Something that many people don’t think to consider is that fathers can get postpartum depression, too. Truthfully, both pregnancy and birth-giving can be quite stressful on fathers as well.
PPD in dads can look like sadness and anxiety, changes in eating habits, and certainly feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. PPD in fathers can certainly have adverse effects on the fathers’ health, but also on the relationship between the father and the baby as well as between the father and the mother. For this and many other reasons, it’s important for fathers to talk with a medical professional if experiencing any of these symptoms.
Talk to a Doctor
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure you’re caring for your baby and for yourself to the best of your ability. The baby blues are normal, but give your doctor a call if your symptoms don’t go away after a couple of weeks, if they get worse, if they make it difficult for you to care for your baby and complete regular tasks, and especially if they bring you thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
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