Feeling the Baby Blues or Something More?
- Are you pregnant, or have you recently had a baby?
- Have you or your partner been experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety as a result of a pregnancy or birth that took place within the last year?
- Do you wish you had more emotional support as you transition into life with a newborn?
Perhaps you are experiencing bouts of sadness that include weepiness, moodiness, and irritability. You may be taking your frustrations or anxieties out on your partner, close friends or other family members creating a rift in your relationship as you tend to the needs of your pregnancy or new infant.
Sleep deprivation may have impacted your ability to cope and adjust to your surroundings. Perhaps you are feeling detached and unable to have the positive experience you were hoping for during this exciting time. Or maybe you are so hyper-focused on maintaining the health of your pregnancy or newborn that you have suppressed your own needs in the process.
Maybe you have troubling thoughts about your pregnancy or newborn that, while common, are disconcerting. You may be experiencing intrusive thoughts that make you question your integrity as a parent. Perhaps you even have considered harming yourself or your baby, despite an inherent wish to cultivate a safe and loving atmosphere for your child.
Regardless of whether this is your first birth, you’ve had children before, or you gave birth months ago, each pregnancy is unique and will affect each parent in different ways. And though you may feel like you can and need to handle this transition without the help of others, you don’t need to be alone in navigating prenatal/perinatal depression and anxiety. Postpartum therapy can offer you guidance and relief.
New Parents Often Shy Away from Seeking the Help They Need
The introduction of a new baby into the family brings about a wide range of emotions, some of which can feel contrary to the parenthood narrative that we are served as we grow into adults. However, the advocacy group 2020 Mom projects that one in seven women experiences depression during the perinatal (before or during birth) and postpartum (after birth) periods, while one in ten Dads experiences depression after the birth of a new baby.
These statistics don’t reflect bad or ineffective parenting but rather a culture of expectation that puts pressure on Moms and Dads alike to enjoy each and every aspect of the perinatal and postpartum process. Social media is a vehicle for overly simplistic messaging and inaccurate snapshots of perfection that portray pregnancy and birth as a purely positive experience. And as a result, we as parents are made to feel as though this period should be the best and most fulfilling time in our lives.
The reality is that varying hormone levels during and after pregnancy create chemical imbalances that can greatly affect our sleep cycles, moods, and overall functioning. Since we find the transition into parenthood more difficult than what we may have imagined, we can end up resenting our children without meaning to do so.
Of course, these are not feelings that we’d like to advertise or make public, as they go against cultural expectations and the vision we have of ourselves. Moreover, new parents—mothers especially—tend to think they can manage both the logistical and emotional aspects of parenthood entirely on their own and without the help of others.
While such conditions as the Baby Blues and postpartum depression remain incredibly common, it’s important to seek help as soon as you observe an onset of depression and/or anxiety. The longer these symptoms go untreated, the longer it will take to overcome them and find relief. However, you can begin that process now by seeking the help of a supportive therapist to guide you through postpartum therapy.
Postpartum Therapy is a Chance to Explore the Many Emotions that Accompany Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
Because so many of the emotions listed above are considered taboo when it comes to parenting, it can feel tempting to turn inward and not express your worries or concerns with others. Yet, therapy is an opportunity to enter a nonjudgmental space where you can explore your anxieties and the core beliefs that have led you to feelings of disappointment and self-doubt.
Since parenting is such a personal topic, I will work to tailor my approach to perinatal and postpartum therapy to meet the needs of you and your partnership. By first locating the most pressing and immediate issues, we can work together to get you to an emotional baseline that will allow you to examine other areas of your life and identify the self-limiting beliefs contributing to the distress that you are experiencing.
As I provide psychoeducation about what happens to the brain and body during pregnancy, birth, and thereafter, you will be given the opportunity to have your experience normalized and de-stigmatized. From there, we will get a sense of how you feel on a day-to-day basis and if there are areas where you feel you are failing. And eventually, we will adjust and break down the expectations that you brought to your transition into parenthood.
Postpartum therapy can help you maintain realistic goals about what you can accomplish in a day and how you can set yourself up for success rather than failure. At this very crucial time of your transition home with a new baby, it will be essential that you feel supported in managing your sanity and functionality by keeping you focused on absolute necessities until your circumstances change and you will have time to do more.
In addition, postpartum therapy will give you the skill set needed to effectively bond with your baby, partner, and existing children you may have. Perinatal and postpartum depression tend to obscure an open and warm connection with those around you, including your infant. Therefore, by understanding the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you will be better prepared to form healthy and productive attachments and create stronger developmental pathways for your child.
Therapy is just one resource among many that can help you make the adjustment to parenthood. And given that perinatal/postpartum depression and maternal mental health are two of my specialties, I am prepared to offer insight into how to find the right support during this time. While exercise, healthy eating habits, and rest are essential, connecting to other new parents with similar experiences will help you to feel seen and supported. I can assist you with finding playgroups or support gatherings that will offer a sense of solidarity during this emotional and often stressful period.
All parents experience a wide range of emotions while navigating pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing. Whether it’s your first or fifth pregnancy, asking for help is hard—yet it is the first step in an essential process of creating a healthy and beneficial relationship with both your child and your partner.
Taking care of your needs with the help of postpartum therapy now can enable you to become the loving and supportive parent you strive to be.
The “Baby Blues” define a period of time that the vast majority of new mothers experience in which weeping, moodiness, and symptoms of depression immediately follow the birth of a baby. These symptoms usually last about two to three weeks and often resolve on their own.
Postpartum depression (PPD) characterizes an ongoing period of sadness following a birth, wherein intrusive thoughts impact a new mother’s ability to cope. PPD lasts longer and is more intense than the “Baby Blues”, and onset can occur up to six to twelve months after birth.
It’s not your fault!
You didn’t do anything that caused this to happen. There are a number of genetic, psychological, and external factors that contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. For some reason or another, your body was engineered to respond to pregnancy or birth this way, and while those factors may be out of your control, you do have the power to find support and overcome these challenges.
Yes, you will get better.
However, there is no timeframe for relief; everyone is different and has a different experience when it comes to perinatal/postpartum depression. It’s important to evaluate who your support systems are, what resources are available to you, and if you are receiving professional help through postpartum therapy. Research shows that the earlier you can locate these supports, the sooner you can find relief and become a high-functioning, supportive caregiver to your baby.
Navigate the Challenges of Parenthood
If you’re pregnant or have recently given birth and experiencing symptoms of perinatal/postpartum depression or anxiety, therapy can offer you relief and guidance.