Postpartum depression, or peripartum depression occurs after a woman gives birth. Within a few hours of giving birth the amount of the two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, return to their pre pregnancy levels. Many researchers feel that this drop in hormone levels, much like the smaller changes in hormone levels can affect a woman’s mood just before her menstrual cycle, is one of the causes of postpartum depression.
In some women the levels of thyroid hormones decrease as well. This decrease in these hormones can lead to symptoms of depression too. Some of these symptoms include a depressed mood, a loss of interest in daily things, problems sleeping and fatigue, irritability and weight gain.
Another factor that can lead to postpartum depression is genetics. This type of depression can be passed down from mother to daughter. There is also a correlation between postpartum depression and women who suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome.
Postpartum depression is also known as the baby blues and one in ten new mothers suffer from this to one degree or another. In addition to the drastic changes in hormone levels, the presence of a new baby in the house is also a major factor in postpartum depression. A new baby can be a major stress on a new mom and this can factor into becoming depressed. Some of these factors include:
- Having less free time then before the baby was born and an inability to control the time needed to get things done. The baby demands all the mothers attention, leaving little time for herself.
- Going through labor is extremely stressful and tiring for a new mom. A new mom does not have time to regain her strength post delivery because of the demands and needs of the new baby. Just getting a good nights sleep is nearly impossible with late night feedings and diaper changes.
Many new mothers question their own ability to be a good mom. They become overwhelmed with the care the new baby needs and start to worry that they aren’t providing the care their baby needs.
For new moms, postpartum depression can occur with a feeling that they are no longer who they used to be. Their old schedule and ways of doing things have been replaced by the needs of their new baby. They can also feel like they have to do it all and try to take care of the new baby while doing all the things they used to do. This can be very overwhelming because chances are the care of the new baby will not allow them to accomplish all that they think they should.
New moms can also become disconnected from their partner and family. They find that their time is limited and they just don’t have time to spend with the rest of their family.
For most women the “baby blues” will usually go away as their hormone levels get back to normal. But for some women the depression associated with a new baby does not go away and can steadily get worse. It is very important that women who experience any kind of depression after child birth talk to their doctor right away. Most cases of postpartum depression can be dealt with with medication and some counseling.
Be sure to talk to someone if you feel like you are struggling. You are not alone and how you feel is normal.