3 Things To Know About Postpartum Depression

According to Postpartum Progress, approximately 20% of women suffer from postpartum depression after having a baby. If you are currently pregnant, this is something you may want to discuss with your obstetrician. Learning about postpartum depression is a great way to prepare yourself for the possibility of getting it, and here are three things you should know about this common condition.

What Is It?

After having a child, many women will begin feeling sad and depressed. This usually happens approximately two or three days after the baby is born, and it leaves a woman with sadness she cannot describe. While sadness is one of the feelings postpartum depression brings on, there are others too, including:

  • Irritability
  • Crying spells
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Problems concentrating
  • Anger
  • Fatigue

You should realize that having some of these feelings is completely normal for many women; however, the feelings should slowly dissipate. If they don't, or if they begin interfering with caring for your baby, you should talk to your obstetrician to find out what you can do about this problem.

What Causes It?

While there is not one specific reason women experience this after childbirth, researchers believe that there are a combination of factors that lead to this condition. These include:

  • Changes in hormones – A lot of women feel really happy during pregnancy and this is often attributed to the surge in estrogen during this time. There are a lot of hormonal changes occurring while you are pregnant and there are also a lot after giving birth, and these changes may trigger postpartum depression.
  • Emotional issues – If you have had depression in the past, you may be more prone to getting postpartum depression, but other emotional factors can also play a role in this. For example, if this pregnancy wasn't planned, or if you are going through a difficult situation, you may be more likely to develop depression after giving birth.
  • Lack of sleep – Another common reason this happens is because women are often very tired after giving birth. They begin losing sleep and have the demands of a newborn child to meet. Not getting enough sleep can lead to many problems, including emotional ones.

If you know the signs to look for and understand why this is happening, you will know what to do if you think you have postpartum depression.

What Can You Do About It?

Talking to your obstetrician is a good place to start if you begin having these feelings. Your doctor may be able to give you good advice to help the depression, and he or she might even suggest taking medication if it is severe. Here are some ideas of how you might be able to beat this depression without medication:

  • Get enough sleep – This may seem impossible at first, but it really isn't. Babies need approximately 16 hours of sleep each day, and you can try to sleep each time the baby naps.
  • Avoid isolation – Feeling alone and trapped inside your house may leave you feeling isolated, which can lead to depression. Make sure you invite people over or talk on the phone with friends. You can also take the baby out here and there, just to get out of the house.
  • Find things to do alone – If possible, take time for yourself each day even if it is just taking a bath alone or going for a short walk.

If the depression continues, don't be afraid to ask your doctor for an antidepressant. This type of medication can help control your moods, and this might be necessary if you are having a lot of problems focusing or caring for your baby.

Postpartum depression can happen to any woman that gives birth, but there are ways to treat it. Talk to your obstetrician or a place like Women's Clinic of Johnson County to learn more about this subject.