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Let's begin with the definition of Postpartum Depression (PPD). PPD is a temporary depression related to pregnancy and childbirth. It comes in two forms: early onset, commonly referred to as the "baby blues," and late onset.
The early-onset type is mild and may affect as many as 80% of women after they deliver. It starts after delivery and usually resolves itself within a couple of weeks without medical treatment. The later-onset form is what most people think of as "postpartum depression". This more severe form is usually recognized several weeks after delivery. Overall it affects about 10%-16% of women.
Coping With the 'Baby Blues'
Since the “baby blues” affects the majority of women out there, I am going to address this specific form of postpartum depression. For those who find themselves dealing with late-onset postpartum depression, it might be in your best interest to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider. This more severe form of depression isn’t as easily dealt with.
Now, even though it was stated earlier that having the “baby blues” will generally resolve itself within a couple of weeks after delivery, those couple of weeks can be detrimental to a new mother without learning some coping techniques. To begin, with find someone who you can confide in. Whether it be your spouse, partner, sister, friend or mother, you need someone who is trustworthy and supportive. The greatest confidant for matters like this can be a seasoned parent or a mother of multiple babies. For they know more then anyone the hardships of adjusting to life with a newborn.
You Are Not Alone
Once you have opened up about your fears, worries and thoughts about your new role as a mom, take a breath and remind yourself that you are not alone. 80% of new moms experience some form of depression and it is completely normal. This is not the time to be hard on yourself. Find comfort in knowing that the feelings of insecurity and fear will pass as you adjust to your new role.
Now, make a point to ask people for help and make time for yourself. Whether your baby is 5 days old or 20 weeks old, every mom needs personal time. This is extremely important in the first few weeks of motherhood. Oftentimes, new moms become overwhelmed with how much is needed from them and it’s very easy to become impatient and resentful towards your new baby. Even amongst the intense love and bond you feel towards your baby, it's still possible to resent him or her at the same time.
So get a massage or find a good book to read, and no matter what it is just remember its time for you and only you. No friends, no husbands, no one else can take up this time. You must make it a point to reconnect with yourself and have some inner peace and quiet.
Lastly, spend special time bonding with your baby. Sometimes we get so caught up in the feeding, cleaning, changing and napping routine that we forget to enjoy the new life we have been given. Make it a point to do something special with your little one every day that is enjoyable to your rather than a bare necessity. Read them your favorite book, take a walk through the park, cuddle with them, or do anything that makes you smile along with your new baby.
A Final Thought
It helps to remind yourself constantly that even though this new life is giving you little sleep and is taking more from you then you think you have to give, they are nothing short of a miracle. Despite what the media encourages us to think, the love you have for your child doesn’t always start off as an overflowing fountain. Sometimes you need to tend to it daily and let it grow as they grow.
Before you know, it you will wonder why you ever thought the first few weeks of motherhood were so hard and all you will realize is that life has never been sweeter then with their presence.
Pacific Northwest Family Therapy is a highly qualified Seattle, WA Therapist who is committed to ensuring that you receive excellent care for any of your problems. Don't hesitate to give us a call.
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