During pregnancy we all read about post-partum depression and the potential symptoms and signs to watch for. If you’re anything like me, you had a little check-list tucked away somewhere, hoping you wouldn’t have to pull it out and count out just how many of those signs or symptoms you might be feeling on any given day. The weeks following childbirth and first days of motherhood are overwhelming, surreal and positively life-altering, how could you not be feeling fear or sadness in some of those moments? It’s not that we don’t all feel some of those emotions, or signs and symptoms at one point or another during the first months of parenthood, but it’s the level and frequency at which we feel them. Like your doctor, or pregnancy books will tell you, when you feel the ‘baby blues’ in the first few weeks, but they don’t seem to go away on their own, you have thoughts of hurting the baby or yourself, or lose interest in the baby altogether, it’s time to see your doctor for treatment of post-partum depression.
Let’s talk about how to keep the baby-blues from turning into post-partum depression. I’m using the list of factors that can increase a woman’s likelihood of experiencing PPD from www.womenshealth.gov to address ways to avoid post-partum depression:
1 | Having a personal or family history of depression or other mental illness can be a factor that increases your risk of post-partum depression. The important thing here is to talk to your immediate family and your doctor about what you or they have experienced. Letting your doctor and partner know before birth that you may be at higher risk lets everyone in and allows for early intervention if necessary.
2 | Anxiety or negative feelings about the pregnancy can also increase your risk. Address these issues with your partner or a therapist during the pregnancy if possible, to find coping methods before baby arrives.
3 | Marriage or money issues can create fear and anxiety when adding the baby into the mix. Talk to a therapist and communicate with your partner in great detail to avoid bottling up your feelings, which can increase the negative thoughts.
4 | Support from your family and friends is one of the most important factors in ensuring that baby blues do not turn into post-partum depression. If you’re like many new moms, you don’t necessarily live close to your extended family, which makes having a large circle of support challenging, but not impossible. Follow these steps to create your circle of support before, during and after pregnancy:
January has been proclaimed Post-Partum Depression Awareness Month in Edmonton, and the founders have created a website to promote education and resources for local moms as well as an information session. Visit www.ppda.ca today.
Connie Peters is a Riverbend mom of three girls and the founder of modernmama.ca.
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