Can You Have Postpartum Depression During Pregnancy

The Difference Between The Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression


Forty to 80% of all new mothers may experience the baby blues within the first 10 days following birth. While a new baby can bring immense joy to a family, families also experience stress, fatigue, and difficulty adjusting to a new routine and responsibilities. Many new mothers may have the baby blues after childbirth, which is a fairly normal occurrence that typically lasts less than two weeks.

Symptoms of Baby Blues include:

  • Mood swings and crying spells
  • Sadness and anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Reduced concentration

These symptoms do not interfere with functioning or infant care and are intermixed with feelings of happiness. These feelings are temporary and usually fade on their own within the first few weeks after birth.

If feelings of sadness, anxiety, and worry do not resolve within a few weeks, a mother may be experiencing postpartum depression or another perinatal mood disorder that may require treatment.

Postpartum Depression Causes And Risk Factors

If you have PPD, itâs not because you did anything wrong. Experts think it happens for many reasons, and those can be different for different people. Some things that can raise the chances of postpartum depression include:

  • A history of depression prior to becoming pregnant, or during pregnancy
  • Age at time of pregnancy
  • Ambivalence about the pregnancy
  • Children
  • Family history of mood disorders
  • Going through an extremely stressful event, like a job loss or health crisis
  • Having a child with special needs or health problems
  • Having twins or triplets
  • Living alone

Thereâs no one cause of postpartum depression, but these physical and emotional issues may contribute:

  • Hormones. The dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone after you give birth may play a role. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply and make you feel tired, sluggish and depressed.
  • Lack of sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems.
  • Anxiety. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn.
  • Self-image. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity, or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression.

Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health

Communicating well with your doctor health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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Coping Strategies For Every Stage

The following tips and strategies can help you reduce and cope with negative feelings at every stage of motherhood:;;

For pregnant women:

  • Talk to your doctor: To minimize the unknown factors involved in pregnancy and delivery, talk to your OB physician or provider about your concerns. Your doctor can assure you that your feelings are natural and answer any questions you may have.
  • Develop a game plan for success: Before you give birth, have a plan in place for how you will get adequate sleep and nutrition in the weeks and months after giving birth. If possible, arrange for family members to help with the baby after delivery. If they cant isolate prior to assisting, arrange for them to drop off meals, pick up dirty laundry, etc. Since it might be more challenging to coordinate at-home support during the pandemic, planning ahead is even more important.
  • Prepare yourself and your home before going into labor: Take virtual classes and maternity center tours to help you prepare for motherhood. Atrium Health offers patients access to the Babyscripts app, a leading virtual care platform that supports moms from the time pregnancy is confirmed until 6 weeks postpartum. Be sure to have all the supplies you need at home, including an adequate supply of diapers and wipes, bottles, nursing equipment and a car seat. Its also beneficial to choose your pediatrician ahead of time.

For new mothers:

Can Ppd Be Prevented

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says that certain kinds of counseling can prevent perinatal depression for women at increased risk of depression. Counseling is when you talk about your feelings and concerns with a counselor or therapist. This person helps you understand your feelings, solve problems and cope with things in your everyday life.;

The Task Force recommends counseling for women with one or more of these risk factors:

  • Current signs and symptoms of depression
  • A history of depression or other mental health condition
  • Being pregnant as a teenager or being a single mom
  • Having stressful life circumstances, like low income
  • Being a victim of IPV

The Task Force recommends two kinds of counseling to prevent PPD for women at increased risk:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy . CBT helps you manage negative thoughts by changing the way you think and act. Common kinds of CBT include working with a therapist to help you set goals and identify negative thoughts and behaviors so you can begin to think and act differently.
  • Interpersonal therapy . IPT helps you identify and deal with conditions and problems in your personal life, like relationships with your partner and family, situations at work or in your neighborhood, having a medical condition or losing a loved one. Common kinds of IPT include working with a therapist in role-playing, answering open-ended questions and looking closely at how you make decisions and communicate with others.
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    What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

    • Your baby blues dont go away after 2 weeks
    • Symptoms of depression get more and more intense
    • Symptoms of depression begin within 1 year of delivery and last more than 2 weeks
    • It is difficult to work or get things done at home
    • You cannot care for yourself or your baby
    • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby

    Ask your partner or a loved one to call for you if necessary. Your doctor, nurse, or midwife can ask you questions to test for depression. They can also refer you to a mental health professional for help and treatment.

    How Is Postpartum Depression Treated

    The common types of treatment for postpartum depression are:

    • Therapy. During therapy, you talk to a therapist, psychologist, or social worker to learn strategies to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act.
    • Medicine. There are different types of medicines for postpartum depression. All of them must be prescribed by your doctor or nurse. The most common type is antidepressants. Antidepressants can help relieve symptoms of depression and some can be taken while you’re breastfeeding. Antidepressants may take several weeks to start working.

      The Food and Drug Administration has also approved a medicine called brexanolone to treat postpartum depression in adult women. Brexanolone is given by a doctor or nurse through an IV for 2½ days . Because of the risk of side effects, this medicine can only be given in a clinic or office while you are under the care of a doctor or nurse. Brexanolone may not be safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.

      Another type of medicine called esketamine can treat depression and is given as a nasal spray in a doctor’s office or clinic. Esketamine can hurt an unborn baby. You should not take esketamine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    • Electroconvulsive therapy . This can be used in extreme cases to treat postpartum depression.

    These treatments can be used alone or together. Talk with your doctor or nurse about the benefits and risks of taking medicine to treat depression when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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    How Common Is Postpartum Depression


    About 1 in 7 women may experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy and/or the first year after childbirth.

    Clinical research indicates that 13% -19% of all new mothers experience this significant, clinical condition.


    About 1 in 10 new fathers may experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy and/or the first year after childbirth.

    Clinical research indicates 4%-25% of all new fathers experience paternal PPD.

    Treatment For Postpartum Depression

    Depression During Pregnancy & How To Deal

    If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, you should see your doctor as soon as possible so that you can get started on treatment.

    There are two main treatments for postpartum depression: medication and therapy. Either one can be used alone, but they may be more effective when used together. Its also important to make some healthy choices in your daily routine.

    It may take a few tries to find out what treatment works for you. Keep open communication with your doctor.

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    Does Pregnancy Cause Depression

    Pregnancy can cause you to experience depression. Your body goes through a lot of change and the stresses of pregnancy can trigger depression in some women. Not everyone who becomes pregnant will also be depressed.

    If you have experienced depression in the past, your symptoms could return or if you were living with depression before your pregnancy, it may get worse once youre pregnant.

    Its important to talk to your healthcare provider about depression during pregnancy because it can extend after delivery. Women who experience depression during pregnancy are at a higher risk of postpartum depression .

    Depression During Pregnancy And After

    For too many women, joyfully anticipated pregnancy and motherhood bring depression as an unexpected accompaniment. Children as well as mothers suffer. Depression during pregnancy may result in poor prenatal care, premature delivery, low birth weight, and, just possibly, depression in the child. Depression after childbirth can lead to child neglect, family breakdown, and suicide. A depressed mother may fail to bond emotionally with her newborn, raising the child’s risk of later cognitive delays and emotional and behavior problems. Fortunately, if the depression is detected soon enough, help is available for mother and child.

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    If You Have Ppd What Can You Do To Help You Feel Better

    Heres what you can do to help the treatment from your provider work better:

    Stay healthy and fit.

    • Do something active every day. Go for a walk or get back to the gym.
    • Eat healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and lean meats. Try to eat fewer sweets and salty snacks.
    • Get as much rest as you can. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps.
    • Dont drink alcohol. This includes beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can slow your body down and make you feel more depressed. It also can interact with the medicine youre taking for PPD. Its never a good idea to drink alcohol if youre breastfeeding. This is because you can pass alcohol to your baby through your breast milk.
    • Dont take street drugs. These affect the way your body works and can cause problems with the medicine youre taking for PPD. You also can pass street drugs to your baby through breast milk.

    Ask for and accept help.

    • Keep in touch with people you care about and who care about you. Tell your partner, family and friends how youre feeling.
    • Take time for yourself. Ask someone you trust to watch the baby so you can get out of the house. Visit a friend, get outside or do something you enjoy. Plan for some time alone with your partner.
    • Let others help around the house. Ask your friends and family to watch the baby, help with housekeeping or go grocery shopping. Dont be afraid to tell them what you need.

    Reduce your stress.

    Questions To Ask Your Doctor

    The Truth About Postpartum Depression
    • Will I have to take antidepressants for life?
    • If I take medicine, will I have trouble getting off the medicine when I feel better?
    • How will I know if the medicine is making me feel better or if Im naturally getting better?
    • Will I have postpartum depression with every pregnancy?
    • Who should I call if I am having thoughts of suicide or of harming my baby?

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    What Is Postpartum Obsessive

    Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the newer disorders that is part of the postpartum mood disorders group. It is estimated that about 3-5% of postpartum women will experience some of the symptoms of PPOCD.Symptoms may include:

    • Overly occupied with keeping your baby safe
    • Compelled to do certain things over and over again to help relieve her anxiety and fearsThis can include counting things, ordering things, listing things, checking and rechecking actions already performed, and cleaning repeatedly. This may manifest itself in cleaning, feeding, or taking care of the baby.
    • May recognize these obsessions but feels horror and shame associated with them
    • Obsessions or thoughts that are persistent, are repetitive and can include mental images of the baby that are disturbing
    • Fear of being alone with the baby

    Women who suffer from PPOCD often know that these thoughts, actions, and feelings are not normal and do not act on them. But the obsession can get in the way of a mom taking care of her baby properly or being able to enjoy her baby. With the right treatment, women with PPOCD can experience freedom from being controlled by these obsessions and compulsions.

    How Does Depression Affect Pregnancy

    Experiencing depression during pregnancy can impact a mothers health in several ways. Depression during pregnancy can affect you by:

    • Interfering with your ability to care for yourself. Its important to take care of your own health during your pregnancy. Depression can cause you to push those personal needs aside. If youre depressed during pregnancy, you might be less able to follow medical recommendations, as well as sleep and eat properly.
    • Placing you at a higher risk of using harmful substances. These substances can include tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. Depression may cause you to turn to these substances, all of which can have a negative impact on your pregnancy.
    • Interfering with your ability to bond with your growing baby. While your baby is in the womb , the baby can actually hear you talk and can sense emotion by the pitch, rhythm and stress in your voice. If you are experiencing depression during your pregnancy, you might find it difficult to develop this bond with your baby. You might feel emotionally isolated.

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    Causes Of Postnatal Depression

    The cause of postnatal depression is not completely clear.

    There are a number of things that may make you more likely to have postnatal depression. These include:

    • a history of mental health problems, particularly depression, earlier in life
    • a history of mental health problems during pregnancy
    • having no close family or friends to support you
    • a difficult relationship with your partner
    • recent stressful life events, such as a bereavement
    • physical or psychological trauma, such as domestic violence
    • having the “baby blues”

    Even if you do not have any of these, having a baby is a life-changing event that can sometimes trigger depression.

    It often takes time to adapt to becoming a new parent. Looking after a small baby can be stressful and exhausting.

    Risk Factors For Depression And Anxiety

    These Are the Signs of Anxiety During Pregnancy & Postpartum

    Anyone can develop depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum. You may be more likely to develop one of these conditions if you:

    • Are a stay-at-home mom.
    • Are trying to do everything from home, including working, managing homeschooling and caring for the home.
    • Are experiencing isolation or trauma at home, including abuse from a partner.
    • Are struggling to care for babies/children who are sick at home or in the neonatal unit.
    • Have a preexisting mental illness or a family history of depression, bipolar disorder or another mental illness.
    • Have a history of PPD with previous pregnancies.
    • Have limited financial or social resources, including less support at home.

    The pandemic has also increased the number of unknowns and concerns first-time mothers have about giving birth. They may be unsure about what to expect during delivery, asking questions such as: Do I have to wear a mask while in labor and pushing? Will I be allowed to have my partner present for support? What about visitors after my baby is born?

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    If Im Depressed Will It Affect My Children

    Depression is treatable. But if it is not treated, it will affect your children.

    Moms who are depressed may have trouble caring for their children. They may be loving one minute and withdrawn the next. They may respond to their child in a negative way or not respond at all. Your feelings and your behaviour will affect your ability to care for your children.

    Depression can also affect attachment, which is important for your childs development. Attachment is a deep emotional bond that a baby forms with the person who provides most of his care. A secure attachment develops quite naturally. A mother responds to her crying infant, offering whatever she feels her baby needsfeeding, a diaper change, cuddling. Secure attachment helps protect against stress and is an important part of a babys long-term emotional health. It makes a baby feel safe and secure, and helps him learn to trust others.

    If youre depressed, you may have trouble being loving and caring with your baby all the time. This can lead to an insecure attachment, which can cause problems later in childhood.

    How a mothers depression affects her child depends on the childs age.

    Babies;who dont develop a secure attachment may:

    • have trouble interacting with their mother ,
    • have problems sleeping,
    • may be delayed in their development,
    • have more colic,

    What Is Postpartum Post

    Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder often affects women who experienced real or perceived trauma during childbirth or immediately after the baby was born. It is believed that approximately 1-6% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder after giving birth.Traumas that might cause postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder include:

    Symptoms of PPTSD may include:

    • Nightmares and flashbacks to the birth or trauma
    • Anxiety and panic attacks
    • Feeling a detachment from reality and life
    • Irritability, sleeplessness, hypervigilance, startle more easily
    • Avoidance of anything that brings reminders of the event such as people, places, smells, noises, feelings
    • May begin re-experiencing past traumatic events, including the event that triggered the disorder

    Women who are experiencing PPTSD need to talk with a health care provider about what they are feeling. With the correct treatment, these symptoms will lessen and eventually go away.

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