If you’re a first time mom, there’s a lot to learn and a long list of things you need for your physical and mental well-being.
We often get so caught up in the physical aspects of pregnancy, like the secrets of first time mom labor, common postpartum body changes and how your body feels after giving birth, that mental health can be overlooked.
But, mental health is just as important, and postpartum depression is the biggest disorder to lookout for.
Here’s what you need to know about the causes of PPD, what symptoms to monitor, and how to seek treatment and help.
Causes of PPD
Giving birth almost always triggers the “Baby Blues,” with up to 80% of women experiencing mild depressive symptoms after having a baby, according to American Pregnancy.
The entire pregnancy timeline takes a physical, emotional, and hormonal toll on the body.
In this complex anatomical network, changes in even one of these areas can trigger responses in others.
Information like why crying is normal after delivering a baby and how breastfeeding can affect your emotions can help you distinguish between the general “Baby Blues” and more serious depression issues.
There is no one thing that causes postpartum depression, but the stronger symptoms of PPD are less likely to be circumstantial and more likely due to hormonal imbalance.
Hormones are what drive many of the body’s activities, including postpartum recovery (especially contracting the uterus) and breastmilk production.
During this time, some of the hormones that contribute to our mental wellbeing, such as dopamine, may subside in order for other hormone levels to rise.
For some women, this can create a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected through medication.
Some women may be more susceptible to PPD due to underlying conditions, previous history of depression or familial history.
Here are some of the risk factors and underlying conditions that can contribute to PPD:
- History of depression before or with previous pregnancies
- Bipolar Disorder
- Close family members with a history of depression
- An unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
- Recent traumatic or stressful events
- Your baby has special needs or health problems
- Financial instability
- You delivered twins or multiples
- You’re struggling to breastfeed
- Experiencing marital or partner strife
- Lack of support
Keep in mind, just because you’ve experienced one of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to have Postpartum Depression. And it doesn’t mean Postpartum Depression is your fault.
What To Look Out For
So, here’s what to look out for. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s time to talk to your doctor:
- Extreme sadness
- Loss of interest in enjoyable things
- Intense anger or rage
- Social isolation
- Desire to harm yourself or your baby
- Severe anxiety
- An inability to bond with baby
You will likely be prescribed medication in order to improve your mood and stabilize your hormone levels.
If you’re a nursing mom, you’ll need to inform your doctor to get the safest antidepressant while breastfeeding.
With treatment, most women are able to lead normal and happy lives and the need for medication is temporary.
How To Get Help
Get help from a medical professional first, and then reach out to family and friends for support.
There are also lots of amazing resources out there to help the first time mom adjust to motherhood.
- Arm yourself with the best first time mom books.
- Learn the important things to know about breastfeeding, the best newborn sleep tips, and newborn baby hacks.
- Get advice for the postpartum recovery period (like what not to do after giving birth, when you can resume household work, and the postpartum timeline).
And, don’t forget to talk to your mom friends who’ve been there!
They will be more than willing to lift you up in solidarity and provide tips that helped them through this transition phase, too.