Many women experience mood changes once baby arrives. There is a stage which is referred to as the ‘baby blues’ where women may experience mood swings and tearfulness. This stage usually occurs within the first week and lasts approximately 6 weeks. This is a relatively common condition, occurring in 30-75% of women postpartum. More significant symptoms are experienced by 15-20% of women postpartum. If a woman has a pre-existing mental illness the chance that she will experience a postpartum disorder is significantly higher.
Postpartum disorders can often (or frequently) go undiagnosed or unrecognized because moms are so focused on their babies and just aren’t aware of the warning signs.
You will find many references that indicate moderate to severe levels of postpartum disorders. We would like to move forward with the consideration that even the most mild of symptoms require immediate attention from yourself, a loved one or a health care practitioner.
Risk factors for experiencing a postnatal disorder may include:
- A previous history of a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder such as postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety or psychosis
- Depression or anxiety during a current pregnancy
- A previous history of depression or bipolar disorder
- Family history of mental illness including depression or bipolar disorder
- History of pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Previous miscarriage or stillbirth
- Difficulty conceiving, difficult pregnancy and/or delivery
- New baby has health problems such as colic or reflux
- Poor support from partner, family and friends
- Mom of multiples
- Experiencing a recent trauma or stressful event such as; domestic violence, verbal abuse, poverty, loss of a loved one, divorce or financial difficulties
What to do if you are experiencing symptoms
Solutions can range from nutritional changes, addressing micronutrient deficiencies (vitamins and minerals), counselling and medical intervention. Any and all of these options are OKAY! Never, ever should a person feel judged or ashamed when they are taking responsible steps in managing their mental health.
The following is a checklist for you to use in order to monitor your health in the postpartum period. We recommend clicking on the image below and printing out a few copies and going through the signs and symptoms (preferably with a loved one) on a regular basis.