Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

For all new mothers, the period after birth (postpartum) is a time of huge life change and psychological adjustment. In addition to feeling great excitement and wonder about their new baby, all women also experience more difficult feelings in the postpartum period. Sudden hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation can create mood swings and crying jags. Some women can expect of themselves to only enjoy their baby, and never feel sad. A new mother can at times feel overwhelmed by the awesome responsibility of caring for her newborn with no prior experience. She might feel she should know just what to do and imagine that she is the only one to experience states of confusion and anxiety. In addition, a woman’s role changes dramatically. From being an active person in the greater world, she is mostly at home and tied to the needs of her baby. The sudden loss of personal space and autonomy can add to the “blues” for some women. Also, a mother might have mixed feelings about returning to work or staying home.

Mothers need support in the postpartum period. They need to be able to catch up on sleep and have someone else help with some of the homemaking tasks. They also long for a maternal figure (their own mother or a substitute) to provide emotional support and guidance. New mothers may at times experience their family as intrusive or critical and wish for a different kind of help.

The Pacella Parent Child Center is a place where mothers can come and get support in finding their own way to parent. At Pacella we believe there is no right or wrong way. Rather, we help mothers sort through the many questions and feelings they have in order to find a comfortable way to attune to their infant’s needs. Sharing with other mothers all the many feelings and reactions in the postpartum period helps mothers feel re-grounded, as they solidify their mothering role. While we can be helpful with a range of postpartum reactions, for women whose postpartum symptoms are too distressing and interfering with daily life, they should call their doctor.