FAQs

Do all mothers get the "baby blues"?
No, not all mothers get the baby blues or postpartum blues, but up to 80% do.

What are the "baby blues"? [Also see, Expecting or New mother]
Usually new mothers feel weepy, moody, irritable and overwhelmed. This often happens around the third day after the baby is born but can happen any time during the first two weeks. These feelings last for a few hours, a few days or even a week or more, but not for more than two weeks.

What are postpartum mood disorders (PPMD)? [Also see, Expecting or New mother]
Postpartum mood disorders are a collection of illnesses that occur after the birth of a baby, a stillbirth or a miscarriage. The most commonly known PPMD is postpartum depression; there are also postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and others.

What causes some women to get depressed or anxious after the birth of their baby?
PPMD, including depression and anxiety, are thought to have a bio-psycho-social origin meaning that biological, psychological and social factors can play a role in triggering the illness.

How common is PPMD?
Postpartum depression affects about 13% of women. There are no exact rates for most of the other illnesses, but the combined rate of postpartum mood disorders can be up to 20%.

When does PPMD start?
They can start immediately after the birth of the baby and up to one year following childbirth. Symptoms often start during the first four weeks. Women can also experience symptoms during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of PPMD? [Also see, Expecting or New mother]
Different women have different symptoms. When mother's have symptoms of PPMD if is important to get help.

Can these symptoms be caused by other conditions?
There are other conditions that may present similar symptoms such as thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, anemia and autoimmune disease. Some of them are more common after childbirth. It is important for new mothers with symptoms to get a careful physical check-up to rule out other causes.

How is PPMD diagnosed?
Your health care provider may use a screening tool such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) determine if a woman is likely to be depressed, but he or she (be consistent in language) will use his or her judgment and the information the mother provides to decide if the symptoms meet the criteria for diagnosis. [Also see, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)]

What is the treatment for PPMD?
Research shows that treatment is most effective if it is geared to each individual woman. All mothers benefit from increased emotional and practical support from partners, relatives and friends. Support groups with other mothers can also be helpful. Counseling, psychological therapies and medication are the most common treatments used. [Also see, the Healthcare providers section]

Can women breastfeed and take medications for PPMD?
The most commonly used anti-depressants are Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). We do not have a lot of information on all of these. Some information shows that some SSRIs enter breastmilk more readily than others. When choosing a medication it is best to choose one that does not enter easily into breastmilk and that has shown to have little or no effect on the infant. [Also see, Motherisk website]

Can PPMD affect the infant?
Although many mothers who experience these illnesses feel they are bad mothers, they usually take good care of their infants. If the mother remains depressed or anxious over some time, the development of her infant can be affected. It is important for another caregiver to develop a close relationship with the infant. This will improve the infant's development and help to give the mother a break.

How long does PPMD last?
Episodes of these illnesses can vary in length from a few weeks to a number of months. They can even last more than a year. Women will recover faster if they have the support of a loved one and receive other treatment and support.

Can PPMD come back?
About 40% of women may suffer PPMD with another pregnancy or birth. Some women may also experience depression or other mood disorders at times not related to birth or pregnancy.

Can women do anything to prevent PPMD? [Also see, Expecting or New mother]
Although research has not yet identified a treatment to prevent postpartum mood disorders, there are some things women can do to reduce the risk for PPMD and promote good mental health during pregnancy and postpartum.

Develop realistic expectations of motherhood
Develop a network of support (partner, family members, friends, cultural, religious or ethnic organizations, professionals)
Get familiar with and use the community supports in your area (your local public health agency can link you to many community supports including Ontario Early Years
Sleep when the baby sleeps and get extra rest
Eat well, using nutritious food and following Canada's Food Guide
Get regular exercise such as walking or something you enjoy [Also see, Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC) website]
Get out and socialize with other mothers or other adults
Take some time every day to do something for yourself that you enjoy doing
If you think you have symptoms of PPMD seek help early [Also see, Expecting or New mother]

 

 

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