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Postpartum Depression and blues

Postpartum depression/anxiety
  • Affects 10 to 24 percent of women
  • Usually starts 1 to 3 months after birth but can appear any time up to 1 year after giving birth
  • May start after any birth
  • Affects the whole family

Although all families go through an adjustment after a new baby arrives, the amount of time is different for every family.  Becoming a parent may be different from what you thought it would be.  New parents, by birth or adoption, often have a wide range of feelings, from joy, excitement, and amazement to fear, sadness, frustration, anger, and stress.  Think about your stresses during pregnancy and your plan to deal with them.  How have they changed now that your baby’s here?  Make a new plan about how you and your partner can deal with the stress.

You may also have some feelings of sadness at your loss of freedom, a paycheque, your job, sleep, or time for adult interests and relationships.  If you have any of these feelings, talking with someone you trust may help.  Although your new baby may bring many challenges, you’ll also share times of great joy, pride, and pleasure.

For the New Mother

During the first few weeks after your baby is born you may have periods of postpartum “blues”.  You may feel sad, cry for no reason, feel very tired, or have trouble concentrating.

Postpartum blues are common and may happen for many reasons:

  • Hormonal changes
  • lack of confidence in your new role as a mother
    • Not getting enough sleep
    • changes in your relationships
      • Trying to do too much too soon
      • disappointment

Here are a few tips to help you take care of yourself so you can care for your baby.  During the first few weeks, try to:

  • Take one day at a time
  • take some time for yourself
    • Rest when your baby sleeps
    • talk to someone who can help you if you feel like crying
      • Say no to the demands of others
      • choose what is most important to do, ask for and accept offers of help.  You don’t have to do everything.
      • Limit your visitors

If the blues last for more than 2 weeks and you do not feel better with rest, sleep, or support from others, you may have postpartum depression.

Adoptive parents may also have postpartum blues or depression due to the changes and pressures that parenting a newborn may bring.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and/or Anxiety

If you are having any of these feelings, thoughts, or behaviours after you have your baby, you may have postpartum depression and/or anxiety:

  • Cry for no reason
  • have repeated thoughts, ideas, or actions that you can’t seem to control
  • feel like you are not doing anything right or feel like you are not a good mother or partner
  • Feel anxious or panicky
  • Feel angry
  • Have no feelings for your baby
  • feel overwhelmed
  • Feel helpless
  • feel resentful
  • feel depressed–may range from sadness to thoughts and feelings of killing yourself
  • Feel aggressive toward
  • have frightening thoughts your baby or other family members

Call your doctor, midwife, or public health nurse if you have any of these symptoms.

Tips That May Help

  • Keep a simple schedule
  • Take time for important relationships.
  • Take one step and one day at a time.
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Don’t let yesterday or tomorrow take up too much of today.
    • Ask for help.
    • Take time for yourself
    • Learn to say “no”.
    • Get plenty of rest and eat well.
    • Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Recognize that    parenting is hard work and that you are doing your best to do a good job.

Any new mother can develop postpartum depression.  You may need professional support to help you and your family through this difficult time.

For the New Father

As a new father, your emotions may also go up and down.  You may feel excited one day and overwhelmed with responsibility the next.  A new baby often changes everyone’s sleep patterns-you and your partner both need to get enough rest.  By sharing your feelings and listening to each other’s concerns, you can help each other.  Talk about how your roles have or should change now that your baby is here.

You may feel that your partner is better at caring for your baby than you are.  Taking an active role in your baby’s care will help you feel more comfortable.  Try holding, bathing, talking, or singing to your baby.

You can help each other by:

  • Giving extra love and support household chores
  • sharing
    • Sharing the parenting (getting involved with baby care and spending time with your older children)
    • Encouraging rest when your baby is sleeping
    • making sure visitors don’t stay too long
    • asking for and accepting help from others

For Older Brothers and Sisters

Your children may have many reactions to your new baby.  These can range from pleasure and mild interest to a complete lack of interest, jealousy, anger, dislike or a return to baby-like behaviours.

Here are some ideas to help your older children adjust to your new baby and feel more secure:

  • Before your new baby arrives, talk about your older child’s own birth.
  • Read books about pregnancy, birth or adoption, and new babies with your older child.
  • Register your older child (over 3 years of age) in a sibling class.
  • Have a small gift at the birth centre from the new baby for your older child.
  • When friends come to visit your baby, give your older child special attention.  You may want to keep a small bag of toys to bring out when visitors bring gifts for the new baby.

Other ideas you can try are:

  • You may find that your older child wants to be babied instead of acting his or her age.  Try to be patient with baby-like behaviours-they will pass.
  • Encourage your older child to gently handle and help care for the new baby.
  • Hold off on toilet training.
  • Try to keep routines the same as before the new baby’s arrival (for example, same bedtime, same amount of attention, keep normal scheduled activities)

For information, consultation and referral for people with addiction and/or mental health concerns, please call Access Mental Health at 403-943-1500, M-F 9am – 5pm.

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information, call Health Link at 811.

If you need an interpreter just say the language you need.

Source: From Here Through Maternity – A Resource for Families, Alberta Health Services, 2012









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