We all have ups and downs in our physical health - injuries, the occasional cold or flu and sometimes something more serious. In the same way, we go through changes in our mental and emotional wellness too. Pregnancy and the postpartum period can be particularly challenging - both physically and mentally.
The "baby blues" are experienced by most if not all new moms in the first couple of weeks postpartum. Hormone levels drop and you go through physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual changes. Symptoms include: mood swings, irritability, crying spells, anxiousness, sadness, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping and poor concentration.With reassurance, support, rest and love you should feel more yourself soon.
Adjusting to Change
Many things change after the birth of a baby. You may find yourself struggling with:
lack of time and intimacy with your partner
changed relationships with your own parents
lack of 'me time' and self care
a changed identity, who am I as a mom/dad?
body image and sexuality
feeling inadequate, feelings of failure
processing your birth story and any birth trauma
Counselling can help you to make sense of these changes with a supportive, non-judgemental person. Taking the time to process the feelings you have can prevent distress from becoming more serious.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
PPD is common and can arise at any time in the first year postpartum. It affects birth mothers, adoptive parents and dads too.
Feelings of anger or irritability
Lack of interest in the baby or
A lot of anxiety about your baby's well being
Changes in appetite
Sleep disturbance: sleeping more than usual or having trouble sleeping
Crying and sadness
Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
Thoughts of suicide or death
Important: If you are in crisis, please reach out now. You can call the crisis line 1-888-494-3888, your Employee and Family Assistance Provider, or 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Many new parents suffer alone. You might be unsure of what's happening, or you may be afraid of the stigma of mental illness, or of being labelled a bad mom or dad or you might feel ashamed of something you said or did - like yelling at your baby or wishing you had never had a baby at all.
If you're experiencing this remember:
Depression is not your fault
It gets better. PPD is very responsive to treatment
You can enjoy your life again and your baby too
Anxiety can go hand in hand with postpartum depression or it can occur on its own. Symptoms include:
Feeling that something bad is going to happen.
Disturbances of sleep and appetite.
Inability to sit still.
Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Disturbing thoughts about harm coming to the baby even though you know you would never purposefully hurt him or her
Becoming more alert and vigilant about our baby's wellbeing is a normal postpartum change. However, sometimes, our natural responsiveness is turned up too much and it makes life with your new baby more stressful than it needs to be. Counselling can help you to manage anxiety and enjoy your life and your baby more.