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
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
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
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
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
Can PPMD affect
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
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.
realistic expectations of motherhood
a network of support (partner, family members, friends,
cultural, religious or ethnic organizations, professionals)
with and use the community supports in your area (your local
public health agency can link you to many community supports
the baby sleeps and get extra rest
using nutritious food and following Canada's
exercise such as walking or something you enjoy [Also see,
Activity Resource Centre (PARC) website]
and socialize with other mothers or other adults
time every day to do something for yourself that you enjoy
If you think
you have symptoms of PPMD seek help early [Also see, Expecting
or New mother]
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