Week 30 – Postpartum Depression

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Hello. This is Dr. Mauldin. You’re now 30 weeks along and I’m so happy that you’ve made it this far in your pregnancy.
Having a baby is a happy time for most women. Within several days after childbirth, though, many mothers feel sad, afraid, angry, or anxious. Their feelings don’t seem to match the feelings they thought they would have and many mothers end up fearing that they are not good mothers. Most new mothers with these feelings in a mild form have postpartum blues or the “baby blues.” In fact, 70-80% of women have baby blues after childbirth. These feelings almost always go away in a few days or a week without treatment.
About 10% of mothers have a problem that is more serious – called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression lasts longer and is more intense. It often requires counseling and treatment.
Women with postpartum depression have strong feelings of sadness, anxiety or despair and often have trouble coping with their daily tasks. We know that postpartum depression is more likely to happen in women who lack the support of a partner, if they’ve had depression or another mental illness before or if there has been a recent major stress in the patient’s life.  Postpartum depression can occur after any birth – not just the first.
There are 3 things about being a mother that I want you to be aware of:
1. Motherhood is not instinctive. New mothers need to learn mothering skills just as they learn any other life skill. It takes time and patience. Also, bonding with your newborn may not be immediate. It may take several days or weeks – and that’s ok, as long as you are taking good care of your baby.
2. Babies are not perfect. When the baby arrives, it may not match what you have been dreaming of. Right from birth, babies have distinct personalities. Some infants are easier to care for. Others are fussy and not easy to comfort.
3. Mothers are not perfect. For some women, being perfect is a never-ending goal. But most women will struggle with finding a balance between caring for a new baby and keeping up with household duties, taking care of other children and being successful at their job. You are likely to feel this way – even if you have a lot of support!
So… get plenty of rest. Don’t try to do it all and try to nap when the baby naps. Ask for help from family and friends, especially if you have other children.  Take special care of yourself – Shower and dress each day and get out of the house, if only for a little bit.
Please remember to call your doctor if your feelings don’t improve after 1-2 weeks and tell your doctor if you are afraid you might neglect or hurt your baby. Help is available.
Don’t forget to get some exercise several times this week if possible. I hope you’re enjoying your pregnancy and I’ll talk to you next week.

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