By Naomi Starsiak
After months of planning, hundreds of choices, late nights of worrying and random fears, it’s over – you’ve had the baby. Now you’re back home… and you’re crying.
The weeks following childbirth can be intense. Your body went through massive changes, then ran a marathon or underwent major surgery and is trying to recover. The baby is cute, but it wakes up a lot at night and cries whenever it needs something. Really, I’m ready to cry just thinking about it.
But when is crying more than just crying?
The “baby blues” tend to start around 2-3 days after birth. Women can feel depressed, anxious, and angry with the baby, their partner, their older children or any combination. They may also cry randomly for no clear reason, have trouble sleeping, eating and making choices, and wonder if they can actually care for this baby. However, this phase passes fairly quickly. Usually ending by two weeks after birth and without needing any treatment.
Postpartum Depression, however, causes intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that keeps a woman from being able to do daily tasks. It tends to start 1-3 weeks after birth but can begin anytime up to one year after having a baby.
Both of these situations are caused by the shifting hormone levels after childbirth, fatigue, and emotional and lifestyle factors. A woman who is coming home to a sister or friend staying for a few weeks to help with the house and baby while mom recovers has a better chance of emotional stability in a rough time than a single mom who has a limited time off of work and only a few outside resources she can use for help. That being said, depression is no respecter of demographics and a woman with a history of any kind of depression is at a greater risk of postpartum depression.
If you or your loved ones are concerned that the emotions you’re experiencing are more then just a day or two of baby blues, call your doctor right away.
Naomi Starsiak is a birth and postpartum doula, a natural birth consultant, and the co-owner of A Peaceful Birth doula & childbirth service. You can find her on Facebook at facebook.com/APeacefulBirthDoulas.