What Are the Baby Blues?
After having a baby, the mother's body is flooded with hormones designed to change her body from a pregnant state to that of a post-pregnancy state. It took nine months plus a couple weeks to get the baby ready, and it will take at least that amount of time to return to "normal" pre-pregnancy conditions. The rush of hormones has many helpful functions, but also causes emotional symptoms that may feel like severe premenstrual syndrome. Mood swings, feeling down or on edge, fatigue and a general sense of being overwhelmed can be part of the process. This wave of hormone-induced depression is known as the Baby Blues. It's normal and usually passes within a few weeks.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
If the feelings associated with the Baby Blues are more intense than normal, growing into feelings of depression, feeling unprepared for your role as a mother, feeling bitter about the baby or having a hard time keeping up with caring for your baby, you could have postpartum depression.
What Are the Dangers of Postpartum Depression?
Many women who get postpartum depression are unwilling to see the doctor about it, figuring that it will get better over time. The difference is that the Baby Blues fade gradually, while postpartum depression becomes more severe, interfering with your ability to bond with your baby. This affects the baby's development, because bonding is crucial to an infant's emotional state. Behavioral issues with eating and sleeping, difficulty being soothed and language delays can develop.
The longer postpartum depression is left untreated, the longer it can last. In some cases, it can develop into postpartum psychosis, an emergency condition that puts you and your baby in danger. Talking to your doctor and getting early treatment are essential to return a state normalcy to you and your family.
What Else Can Help?
These suggestions can help in all postpartum recovery, including physical and emotional recovery.
I have always read about women who do terrible things to their children, and when they go to trial, they are let off due to being diagnosed with postpartum depression. These stories have always made me angry, because I felt that women were just making excuses for terrible actions that are inexcusable.
The greatest thing in the world just happened-you just gave birth to a beautiful baby. You couldn't be more proud. But with having a child, comes things like sleepless nights, sore nipples (if you are breastfeeding), and for some...postpartum depression.
Almost as many new fathers as mothers suffer from post partum depression (PPD), according to a study first reported in the journal Pediatrics.