I Can’t Be Depressed; I Just Had A Baby!

It may seem remarkable that you—“ of all people”—are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression.  Do you expect yourself to “buck up and be grateful?” Perhaps your family, spouse or friends expect that of you.
 
What you need to know:
Even the most competent women with healthy pregnancies and babies sometimes have difficulties. That is why Hayden Panettiere is talking publicly about her post -birth experiences.

Pregnancy and childbirth are times of joyful anticipation and celebrations.
However, for one in ten women, unexplained worries, burdensome doubts or severe unhappiness appears. And, it is not “just” the baby blues. For some pregnant and parenting women, managing and regulating moods can become full-time jobs.

You deserve to experience joy and a desire to parent.
The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force recommends routine screening for depression. Depression is the leading cause of disease-related disability. Screening is the first step in recognizing the importance of treatment.

For pregnant women, the neurochemistry of depression is shared with the unborn baby. The biological changes impact health and behavior of the children once born.

The behavior changes in parenting women experiencing depression can affect healthy mother-baby interactions. While the mother may know that it will just take a few months to “get over it,” the impact on the baby and the mother-child relationship may last a lifetime.

Know depression can be more likely when:

  • You are pregnant or parenting after loss—including miscarriage, military deployment or the death of a loved one. You might think you should be grateful for a healthy pregnancy. But be kind to yourself. Your loss is as real as the joy.
  • You experienced mood disorders during teen years or previous pregnancies. Depression can reappear like a flare-up in a chronic condition.
  • Don’t let self-doubt about motherhood define your whole experience as a mother.

As Hayden Panettiere knows, getting treatment is not a sign of weakness. It is strength and love for your baby and your family. Voice your need for support.  Reach out to your medical provider, your pediatrician and/or enlist your spouse or family.

You deserve to feel joyful and engaged.
There are plenty of excellent treatment options for depression and excessive worries. It may include counseling, antidepressants and even yoga, meditation and exercise. Find a health provider who will customize treatment to help you re-find joy in your life and your pregnancy and parenting.

You and your baby are important and deserve to be healthy.   
While you are recovering, enlist parenting partners as you would for any major illness.  Your little one needs responsive and joyful experiences for the majority of the day. Let your family members jump in and take your baby to the park, read books and engage in learning activities.  High-quality childcare is another resource. These added supports keep your baby on track, which may quicken your recovery.

Treatment can make you feel much better and help your baby. 

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