PDF Shouldnt I Be Happy: Emotional Problems of Pregnant and Postpartum Women

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The success of this wordless relationship enables a child to feel secure enough to develop fully, and affects how he or she will interact, communicate, and form relationships throughout life. When your baby cries, you quickly soothe him or her. If your baby laughs or smiles, you respond in kind.

In essence, you and your child are in synch. Postpartum depression can interrupt this bonding. Depressed mothers can be loving and attentive at times, but at other times may react negatively or not respond at all. Mothers with postpartum depression tend to interact less with their babies, and are less likely to breastfeed, play with, and read to their children.

They may also be inconsistent in the way they care for their newborns. However, learning to bond with your baby not only benefits your child, it also benefits you by releasing endorphins that make you feel happier and more confident as a mom. Our human brains are primed for this kind of nonverbal emotional connection that creates so much pleasure for you and your baby. Human beings are social. Positive social contact relieves stress faster and more efficiently than any other means of stress reduction.

Historically and from an evolutionary perspective, new mothers received help from those around them when caring for themselves and their infants after childbirth. Here are some ideas for connecting to others:. Make your relationships a priority. Isolating yourself will only make your situation feel even bleaker, so make your adult relationships a priority. In addition to the practical help your friends and family can provide, they can also serve as a much-needed emotional outlet.

Having a baby is beautiful, but postpartum emotions are so hard

Be a joiner. Even if you have supportive friends, you may want to consider seeking out other women who are dealing with the same transition into motherhood. Good places to meet new moms include support groups for new parents or organizations such as Mommy and Me. Ask your pediatrician for other resources in your neighborhood. One of the best things you can do to relieve or avoid postpartum depression is to take care of yourself. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards helping you feel like yourself again.

Skip the housework — Make yourself and your baby the priority. Ease back into exercise. Studies show that exercise may be just as effective as medication when it comes to treating depression, so the sooner you get back up and moving, the better. No need to overdo it: a minute walk each day will work wonders. Stretching exercises such as those found in yoga have shown to be especially effective.

Practice mindfulness meditation. Research supports the effectiveness of mindfulness for making you feel calmer and more energized. It can also help you to become more aware of what you need and what you feel. Do what you can to get plenty of rest—from enlisting the help of your partner or family members to catching naps when you can.

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Set aside quality time for yourself to relax and take a break from your mom duties. Find small ways to pamper yourself, like taking a bubble bath, savoring a hot cup of tea, or lighting scented candles. Get a massage.

Make meals a priority. What you eat has an impact on mood, as well as the quality of your breast milk, so do your best to establish healthy eating habits.

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Get out in the sunshine. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day. More than half of all divorces take place after the birth of a child. For many men and women, the relationship with their partner is their primary source of emotional expression and social connection. The demands and needs of a new baby can get in the way and fracture this relationship unless couples put some time, energy, and thought into preserving their bond.

The stress of sleepless nights and caretaking responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Keep the lines of communication open. Many things change following the birth of a baby, including roles and expectations. For many couples, a key source of strain is the post-baby division of household and childcare responsibilities. Carve out couple time. Even spending 15 or 20 minutes together—undistracted and focused on each other— can make a big difference in your feelings of closeness.

Individual therapy or marriage counseling — A good therapist can help you successfully deal with the adjustments of motherhood. If you are experiencing marital difficulties or are feeling unsupported at home, marriage counseling can be very beneficial. Antidepressants — For cases of postpartum depression where your ability to function adequately for yourself or your baby is compromised, antidepressants may be an option.

However, medication should be closely monitored by a physician and has shown to be more effective when accompanied by psychotherapy. Hormone therapy — Estrogen replacement therapy sometimes helps with postpartum depression. Estrogen is often used in combination with an antidepressant. There are risks that go along with hormone therapy, so be sure to talk to your doctor about what is best—and safest—for you.

If your loved one is experiencing postpartum depression, the best thing you can do is to offer support. Give her a break from her childcare duties, provide a listening ear, and be patient and understanding. You also need to take care of yourself. Dealing with the needs of a new baby is hard for the partner as well as the mother.

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And if your significant other is depressed, you are dealing with two major stressors. Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Listen to her without judging her or offering solutions. Instead of trying to fix things, simply be there for her to lean on. Hormones and changes in brain chemistry appear to play a role in the onset of mood and anxiety disorders in vulnerable women.

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The effects of untreated psychiatric illness on the mother and baby are a growing concern to clinicians and researchers alike. Untreated depression in the mother can lead to poor prenatal care, increased substance use, medical complications, and thoughts of harming oneself. For the child, there can be bonding issues, excessive anxiety or behavioral problems, etc. Exposure to a mother with ongoing untreated mental illness can result in emotional upheaval in the growing child. If you are pregnant, it is in your best interest to share any recurrent emotional changes—however unimportant they may seem—with your health care providers.

The rationale for sharing such information is to minimize the reoccurrence of depression and anxiety in pregnancy and the postpartum if you have a prior history of such illness. In addition, those women who are planning a pregnancy should also share their history of previous episodes with health care providers, as the chance of the disease reappearing during pregnancy or postpartum is likely.

Most women are hesitant, apprehensive, and at times, frankly embarrassed when it comes to disclosing present or prior psychiatric history and that of our family members. We are fearful of being judged and labelled. But we have to make a concerted effort to overcome this barrier and share pertinent information of any illness, be it diabetes, high blood pressure or depression. Unexpected onset of psychiatric symptoms with no prior warning can evoke a sense of shock, disbelief and skepticism. Without previous notice, it is not easy to accept this emotional upheaval at a time when we least expect it.

In fact, it is extremely challenging. Once the realization sinks in, treatment should be sought immediately to lessen the impact of the disease. This illness, if left untreated, can disrupt our lives. We should be our own best advocates in seeking help when necessary. More often than not, dealing with a mother-to-be or mother with mental illness is a taxing and overwhelming experience.

Acceptance of this illness is daunting—time and time again partners want an explanation as to why their loved one is suffering.

Partners and family members need to be reassured that with proper treatment this illness can be controlled. They can be guided to look for early signs in order to help prevent further worsening of the symptoms. Once educated about the illness, partners can be engaged in the treatment—a process that will alleviate their own fears and anxieties.

Research reveals that the recovery from postpartum depression is accelerated by partner support.

In Canada, we are fortunate to have a diversity of health care providers involved in the treatment of pregnant and postpartum mothers. However, not all may be familiar with the psychological aspects of maternal well-being. Doctors who specialize in the field of perinatal mental health should shoulder the responsibility of educating their colleagues such as midwives, obstetricians, family physicians or nurse practitioners.

After thirty-odd years of clinical experience, my message to fellow clinicians is, "Look for psychological signs during pregnancy and the postpartum. There are many effective resources available for women and their families. If a family doctor is providing the prenatal care, make sure you are carefully monitored for your mood.