Having a child is one of the most amazing and life-changing milestones a person can experience. But let’s be honest: being a parent is also a tough gig. Some new parents go with the flow and figure things out along the way, but others may struggle. That’s understandable, what with so many internal and external changes. We want to address new or evolving concerns that go beyond baby blues and help keep you on track as a parent.

Big Changes

Bringing a baby into your life changes every aspect of it, even if you’ve done this before. Some adjustments may even happen before the baby is born but most will come along with this tiny new responsibility.

And while some changes might have you feeling fulfilled as a parent, others may take some getting used to – the non-routine routine, limited sleep, less you-time. Not all parents adjust the same way or at the same pace, but just know that you’re not supposed to. Everyone’s experience is different; it’s personal. And sometimes that personal journey can leave you wondering if all these changes are common.

Perinatal Depression

Other changes are tougher to manage – but they are manageable. Some mothers experience fluctuating hormones, a lengthy or stressful labor, or a difficult pregnancy or delivery. All of that coupled with new life transitions can bring about feelings of fatigue or irritability. Oftentimes those postpartum feelings fade as life with a new baby evolves and becomes normal.

If those feelings persist, it could be a sign of perinatal depression (PND). “Perinatal” is defined as the period before and after childbirth; as such, this mood disorder occurs during pregnancy or the first year after giving birth. Additionally, PND can affect any mother, regardless of age, race, education, or financial standing, and there is no singular cause. Research points to a fusion of environmental and biological factors, including:

  • Personal stress or trauma
  • Hormonal changes
  • Family history or experience with a previous pregnancy
  • The physical demands of pregnancy or childbirth
  • The emotional strain of having a newborn

Signals and Symptoms

Perinatal depression has no particular cause, and the experience can be just as ambiguous. While some women may encounter few signs of PND, others might deal with several symptoms at once. There is no standard formula, but many of the signs are similar. Some of the more common indicators include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Difficulty sitting still, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Unbalanced sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping
  • Irregular appetite or changes in weight
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Physical aches or cramps with no cause
  • Trouble forming an attachment to your baby
  • Having doubts about being able to care for your newborn
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, or anxious

Most mothers with PND feel severe sadness and lethargy. Their uneasiness creates challenges with completing everyday tasks, and the idea of caring for themselves and their baby seems daunting. The good news, however, is perinatal depression is treatable and help is available.

Treating PND

Finding an effective treatment for perinatal depression is important for the health of the mother and the baby. Anxiety during pregnancy can have lasting effects on both parties, including high blood pressure, premature delivery, and low birth weight. Usually, treatments for PND include therapy, medication, or a blend of the two.

Therapy can help mothers dealing with depression and anxiety learn different ways of thinking. This allows them to better assess and react to certain situations, creating more positive thinking and processing patterns. Moms learn to take control of their responses and emotions and begin to find that internal balance that reintroduces constructive and practical attributes. Discovering new behaviors can, over time, help lessen depressed and anxious feelings.

Another form of treatment is through medication – most often with antidepressants to help improve mood. However, pregnant or nursing mothers should discuss with their provider the benefits versus the risks of starting a medication. Once you and your doctor determine the best course to manage your PND, be aware that antidepressants often take a few weeks to take effect.

Count on Calli

Having a baby is exciting – but it can be difficult at times, too. When pregnancy delivers more than you bargained for, you may meet concerns that go beyond baby blues. If you’re in need of guidance to navigate the often-confusing waters of parenthood, The Calli Institute is here to help. We provide accessible, educational, and supportive services for a host of mental health needs. Let us show you our approach toward self-empowerment along your mental health journey. Connect with us today.

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