What is the difference between “Baby Blues” and Postpartum Depression?

Partners and significant others of a new mother should expect some level of emotional challenges after birth of baby– approximately 80% of new mothers experience baby blues or postpartum depression (PPD)

Baby Blues occur within a week or two of birth and last 3 weeks or so

A new mother may be sad and weepy and this is largely due to her birth experience, new demands, little sleep,  and concern about (often spouses) support or lack of

Baby blues can be considered normal and  in most cases won’t last more than a few weeks

Postpartum Depression affects 15% of new moms and has been described as “baby blues on steroids”

Persistent sad mood, irritable, short-tempered, may feel hopeless, sleeping too much or too little, finds chores and routine difficult to manage

Worried and anxious about harm coming to baby and/or not coping with new demands of motherhood

Often begins to feel detachment from the baby – “Things were so much better before…”

Partners, Family, Friends can help

Seek help: help her find a physician, psychiatrist and therapist that understands and can treat postpartum depression, locate community based resources

Understand that medication may be very helpful, even for women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding

Let her express feelings of anxiety and fear freely

Encourage her to exercise and take time for self

Encourage her to attend a support group

Help her develop a schedule that simplifies her daily routine

Praise her when she makes an effort – no matter how small

Help to manage family/friend help/support

(Try) not to take her irritability personally

Practical suggestions

Let her sleep at night!  Cook a meal, take her out

Take the baby, other children, out for a short time at least once a week

Run her a bath, tell her to have some down-time

Help her to get the children ready when you are all going out

Share the chores more.  Notice all the extra tasks she does

Buy flowers or a surprise

Tell her that you appreciate her and for what

Things to keep in mind….

You (or the baby) did not cause her illness and cannot take it away it is a bio-chemical disorder

Get the support you need so you can be there for her

Lower your expectations – household, appearance etc

Many women will “pretend” they feel better before they are not so ask her how she is feeling, communicate, listen

Couples need alone time to connect emotionally, physically

Things will get back to “normal”  but will take time

*Contact me via email at barblarkin@shaw.ca or phone 604-785-4359 for more information if you think you or your partner is experiencing postpartum depression or symptoms of anxiety and would like to set up a private counselling appointment

(Information contained in this blog has been gleaned from information offered through B.C. Women’s Hospital www.bcwomens.ca, Postpartum Dads

www.postpartumdads.org and through other sources gathered through my work with women experiencing postpartum depression)