May 28, 2019

By : Katie Keepers, MD

The postpartum period can be filled with these universal feelings:  “This is not what I was expecting,” “I don’t know what I’m doing” and “I’m so tired.”   

It’s so important to let your friends and family know how you are feeling. You will find they understand and will be happy to help. Joining a mom and baby class or group may help you to not feel isolated. Support is essential. 

Those first six weeks after birth, known as the postpartum period, are filled with many physical and emotional adjustments.

About 70-80 percent of women experience the baby blues a few days after giving birth. Women may feel depressed, sad, anxious and upset or fear they are being bad mothers. Usually, these feelings go away on their own in a few days or weeks.

For about 10-15 percent of women, postpartum depression occurs. Postpartum depression often sets in 1-3 weeks after birth, but it can occur up to one year after having a baby.

With postpartum depression, women may experience feelings of despair, severe anxiety or hopelessness. The severity and feelings can be different for each person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also lists these symptoms: 

  • Crying more often than usual
  • Feelings of anger
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby
  • Worrying that you will hurt the baby
  • Feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby

When these feelings don’t go away and interfere with daily life and activities, it’s time to talk to your health care provider. If your partner, family or friends notice these signs, please listen and see your provider.

We tell moms not to wait until their 4-6 week postpartum appointment. By getting help sooner, you can feel better and enjoy your new family. Treatments include talk therapy and antidepressants. You and your health care provider can weigh the benefits and potential risks of taking antidepressants if you are breastfeeding.

Once women feel up to it, exercise can help boost energy and well-being. Breaking in the stroller and going for a walk is a great way to start. The baby weight will come off, but at this time your body needs nutrients to heal and nourish your baby if you are breastfeeding. Eat lots of fruits, veggies, protein and healthy snacks (day and night).

Remember to take care of yourself.