A full-term pregnancy is made up of three trimesters, but did you know there’s actually a fourth trimester? Postpartum refers to the time period after the birth of a child when a mother’s body transitions back to its non-pregnant state. Every woman and every birth is different, but postpartum recovery may include the following:
- Abdominal pain, as your uterus shrinks back to normal size
- Baby blues
- Hormonal shifts
- Perineum soreness
- Sore nipples and breasts
- Vaginal bleeding and discharge
- Water retention
- Weight loss
If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Mothers should be patient with their bodies both physically and mentally during this time. We know, easier said than done, right? If you are having a difficult time adjusting in the weeks and months following labor and delivery, you are not alone. An estimated 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Even more experience a postpartum mood disorder which includes the following subcategories:
- Baby blues
- Postpartum depression
- Postpartum psychosis
- Postpartum anxiety
- Postpartum obsessive- disorder
- Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder
Approximately 70-80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings following the birth of their child. Depending on how the birth of the baby went, the symptoms of “baby blues” will often hit within four to five days after the birth. Sometimes they may be noticeable early.
Common symptoms of the “baby blues” include crying for no apparent reason, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, mood changes, and restlessness. These feelings typically last for a few minutes or up to a few hours each day, and often resolve within two weeks post-delivery.
In some cases, these symptoms last longer which may be an indication of a more serious postpartum mood disorder. While they are similar to the “baby blues,” postpartum depression symptoms are much more severe.
Red flags that may be a sign of postpartum depression are:
- You might find yourself withdrawing from your partner or other loved ones, and are experiencing an inability to bond well with your baby.
- You might find that your anxiety is out of control to the point of preventing you from sleeping, even when your baby asleep, or eating appropriately.
- You might find overwhelming feelings of guilt or worthlessness or begin to develop thoughts preoccupied with death or even wish you were not alive.
If you are unsure whether your feelings fall within the normal range of “baby blues,” you can use the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale–a screening tool designed to detect postpartum depression. Follow the instructions carefully and answer the questions honestly. If you score greater than 13, it is important that you consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible for a more thorough assessment.
The team of physicians at Raleigh OB/GYN are experienced in caring for women in all stages of life including postpartum. Call 919-876-8225 to schedule an appointment today.