Navigating your postpartum emotions, know the red flags + when to seek support

Postpartum Depression + Anxiety: Symptoms + When to Seek Help

About a week after my first baby was born, we were sitting on the couch in our living room and heard a loud noise from outside. Our second-floor apartment overlooked a busy street and when my husband got up to investigate, he saw that a dog had been hit by a car. He bounded downstairs to help. I stayed put; my newborn daughter resting skin-to-skin against my chest.

Within seconds, I began to shake and sob; my girl’s fuzzy head soaked in a shower of tears. I do love dogs, and it was a horrible scene, but my reaction that day was unusually intense. I was overcome with a flood of extreme emotion. I thought I might hyperventilate. I was in the throes of the baby blues – the most common postpartum mood condition, experienced by approximately 80 percent of mothers during the first two weeks after giving birth.

Symptoms of the baby blues include weepiness, mood swings and trouble sleeping, and usually dwindle after a couple of weeks. But, for as many as one in five women, these and other symptoms persist and become more severe.

Olivia Scobie is a social work counsellor who specializes in perinatal mood, birth trauma, and maternal mental health. She’s also the founder and executive director of Postpartum Support Toronto, a not-for-profit that provides therapy and solidarity for new parents having a tough time adjusting to life with a baby.

“It’s normal to feel exhausted, easily frustrated, overwhelmed, weepy and worried whether or not you are doing everything right in the first six weeks after having a baby,” Olivia says. “It’s also normal to feel like your baby is a stranger and take some time to feel bonded to them and confident in caring for them. But if this persists, and you are feeling hopeless or like your life is over, are sick with anxiety and racing thoughts, or are feeling ungrounded or having trouble distinguishing what is real and what is not, it’s important to tell someone what you are going through.”

Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) are the most common perinatal mood disorders, typically occurring in the early weeks and months after giving birth, though symptoms can begin anytime within the first year. As with many physical and mental illnesses, PPD and PPA symptoms can range from mild and manageable to debilitating.

But before we dive in, let’s first unpack ‘postpartum mood’ and get a good lay of the land – something many new parents, and even some healthcare practitioners, fail to do, simply because collectively we don’t talk about it enough. That’s where we need to start…

Hop over to The Mabelhood to read the full story.

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