Hollywood would have a woman believe that pregnancy and the transition to motherhood should be the happiest times of their lives. But research has indicated that for some women, this time can be challenging.
“There is a pressure in society for mothers to transition seamlessly into their new role whether this is their first of fifth baby. The reality is, many moms struggle with anxiety, depression, or adjustment issues before, during and after pregnancy,” says Liz Bland, Clinical Director of Main Line Health's Women’s Emotional Wellness Center located at the Main Line Health Newtown Square. “The pressure from society that this period should be the ‘happiest time of your life’ makes it all that much harder for many women to ask for help—often women who are struggling are less likely to bring up their symptoms for fear of how they may be perceived,” says Bland.
Professionals refer to the first two to three weeks following delivery as the ‘baby blues’ period. During this time, it’s normal for most moms to feel very emotional—they may be happy one minute and crying the very next. They may feel tearful, irritable, discouraged, unhappy, tired or moody. These blues can be attributed to the hormonal shift that occurs in a woman’s body during delivery. As these hormonal levels begin to normalize, the blues should lift and moms should begin to feel more like themselves again.
When the blues don’t go away or symptoms continue after those initial two to three weeks, postpartum depression or some other postpartum mood disorder could be to blame. Postpartum depression is a true clinical depression in the period after a new baby arrives. Women with postpartum depression may experience symptoms like:
- Feel excessively overwhelmed or anxious
- Feel excessively tearful or sad
- Feel hopeless, discouraged, worthless or alone
- Lose their appetites
- Have trouble concentrating or completing tasks
- Not feel bonded with their babies
- Have upsetting thoughts about themselves or their babies
“Emotional difficulties during pregnancy and in the postpartum period are usually temporary and treatable with professional assistance,” says Bland.
Although struggling during this period can be difficult, it is important women remember they are not alone.
“At any point—during pregnancy, during the ‘baby blues’ period’ or postpartum—trust how you feel and speak up if you’re not feeling well. Tell your partner, speak with your obstetrician or call a professional. Remember, you’re not alone – asking for help is the first step in feeling better,” says Bland.
The Women’s Emotional Wellness Center at Main Line Health Newtown Square offers outpatient mental health therapy and services to women and their families before, during and after pregnancy. Common issues addressed include: depression and anxiety during pregnancy, postpartum depression and anxiety, adjustment issues, infertility, bereavement, unexpected medical outcomes, NICU hospitalizations, and special health care needs. To make an appointment or to learn more about services offered, call 1.888.227.3898.