Maternal Support Groups
Having a baby is usually a happy time in a family’s life. It can also be a stressful time – no matter how much you love your baby or how much you’ve looked forward to the experience. Giving birth puts new mothers through a physical, mental and emotional wringer, which can lead to exhaustion, sleep deprivation and lack of time for themselves. Many women experience emotional changes after childbirth called the baby blues, which are described as mild depression mixed with happier feelings. This is a normal part of new motherhood brought on by all of the hormonal changes that occur after birth. Baby blues symptoms may include tiredness, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty sleeping, moodiness, feelings of sadness, feelings of loneliness, concentration problems, appetite changes, crying spells and feeling nervous or anxious. Symptoms of the baby blues usually show up within a few days after childbirth and can last from several days to a couple of weeks.
If the baby blues last more than two weeks, or if symptoms become worse, you may have a form of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. These symptoms can include sadness, depression, irritability, anger, anxiety, feeling out of control, problems eating or sleeping, upsetting thoughts you can’t get out of your mind, concerns you might hurt your baby or yourself and a lack of desire to do normal everyday things.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders occur more often than most people realize. Approximately 75-80% of new moms experience mild depression during postpartum and 15% of women experience significant depression and anxiety following childbirth. Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum.
Screening for perinatal mood disorders is recommended during pregnancy and postpartum. There is a screening tool designed to detect postpartum depression. If you have concerns about your emotional state, complete this self-test: Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. If you feel you have postpartum depression, it can be helpful to bring the completed form to your doctor or therapist. All new mothers are screened for Perinatal Mood Disorders before discharge at Flagstaff Medical Center.