How can I tell if I’m experiencing Postpartum Depression?
There are a number of ways to differentiate between Postpartum Blues, (mild feelings of depression and anxiety that typically appear within the first one-to-two weeks of giving birth) and Postpartum Depression (more severe and persistent feelings of depression and anxiety that typically show up anytime from a few weeks to two years after the birth of a baby).
(Note: Postpartum Blues used to be called “Baby Blues”, but health care providers are increasingly using the term “ Postpartum Blues” to steer clear of any implication that baby is to blame for how mom is feeling.)
Here is where to start:
It is important to seek treatment, because if left untreated, Postpartum Depression can lead to difficulties in bonding or caring for your baby. That, in turn, can lead to delays in your baby’s development. It can also put major stress on your relationship with your partner. The sooner you recognize the symptoms of Postpartum Depression in yourself and reach out for help, the sooner things can start to get better.
Your new baby has arrived. You’re thrilled, but exhausted. Friends and family members are offering to pitch in, but you’re too tired to figure out how to take advantage of their offers of extra assistance. What should you do?
Explain your situation to a friend who has been there. A mom with slightly older kids will know exactly what types of help you could need right now and will have mastered the organizational tricks necessary to allow you to tap into all that volunteer energy.
Provide this friend with the names and contact information for anyone who has offered to help—and give her a rough idea of each person’s skills and interests. If your friend (aka volunteer coordinator) knows that your cousin loves to cook and has offered to drop off dinner for your family one evening, she can take your cousin upon on this offer and let you know when this delicious homemade dinner will be arriving on your doorstep (so you can sit back and relax that evening).
And if your friends and family members haven’t been quite as forthcoming with offers to help as you might have hoped, your friend can make contact with a few key people, at your request, asking if they might be willing to help out with particular tasks.
When other people drop by to help with laundry or other light housekeeping tasks, let them help. Don’t feel like you should be pitching in. They are there to ease the workload for you during the early weeks of parenthood. Caring a baby is plenty of work. So accept the gift graciously by planting yourself on the couch and saying, “Thank you.”
Ask for help in identifying the key mom and baby resources in your town: where and when the local moms’ group meets; what number you should call if you have any breastfeeding questions; and what online and real-world communities have sprung up in your area. Even if you did your own research back when you were still pregnant, you’ll likely find that your friends will turn up a few additional resources that you weren’t able to uncover on your own—and that will make life better for you and your baby. That’s the magic of the mom-to-mom grapevine!