You have the baby you have looked forward to for 9 months. Your husband or partner has been attentive. Family and friends have come to see the baby. The pain of labor and childbirth has receded quickly into a memory. You are finally home, surrounded by the people and things you love. So why do you feel so awful? You are not the first woman to have postpartum depression or the "baby blues." Many women feel depressed—some more than others.
Postpartum depression most commonly occurs a few days after delivery. Most women are home from the hospital when it hits. You may find yourself bursting into tears over nothing. One minute you feel fine and the next you are sobbing. For the woman who has gone through it before, postpartum depression may be easy to dismiss. For the first-time mother, however, it is both confusing and frightening.
Many factors combine to produce postpartum depression. An important element is the abrupt hormonal change your body undergoes after the birth of a child. Then, too, there is something of an emotional letdown after a baby is born. For 9 months you have focused on this one event. You may have feared it, looked forward to it, even dreamed about it. Now it is over. The attention that once was focused on you is now shifted to your baby. Suddenly you feel inadequate. You wonder how you are ever going to care for such a helpless creature. Add to this the general fatigue that most new mothers feel. Your body has been through a lot and you are tired. But with a new baby to care for and several night feedings, there is not much opportunity to get the rest you so badly need.
If you are used to working and are now staying home, you may be in for a shock. The house seems so quiet—except when the baby is crying. You feel like having a conversation with an adult, but it seems as though everyone in the world but you is at work. Finally, the way you look may add to your postpartum depression. You feel fat and you have not had a chance to shower today and it is almost time for dinner. How, you wonder, will your husband ever be attracted to you again?
In most cases, postpartum depression is over within a few weeks. Most women with postpartum depression simply ride out the storm. Some with severe depression may require professional help. There are some things you can do, however, to help you get through this difficult time.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to get as much sleep as possible. If you are bottle-feeding, arrange for your partner to take one or more night feedings so that your sleep is not interrupted. If you are nursing, you may want to consider pumping your breasts before you go to bed so that your partner can give the baby a bottle of your milk.
This is not the time to worry about an immaculate house or gourmet dinners every night. Nap when your baby naps if you do not have other children to take care of. A supportive partner can go a long way toward helping a mother weather postpartum depression. Often, all it takes is some reassurance that she is still loved and desired.
If you suspect that your postpartum depression goes beyond what is normal, consult your physician. Your physician may prescribe counseling and an antidepressant drug. In severe or prolonged cases, hospitalization for more intensive psychiatric treatment may be suggested.
Pregnancy Week To Week 1- 40