Mental Health Care
Having a baby brings a range of emotions. For some women, the days following delivery can bring a wave of emotions — including sadness, worry, and tiredness. While those feelings usually go away within a few days, for many women the negative feelings persist. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 9 women experience postpartum depression (PPD) — severe and intense feelings of sadness and despair that develop after giving birth, which prevent you from completing daily tasks. Depression and anxiety brought on by childbirth is a medical condition and can be treated if you seek help.
The baby blues
Many new moms get the “baby blues.” Some signs of the baby blues include:
- Feeling sad
- Crying more than usual
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling moody or having sudden mood shifts
- Not feeling hungry
- Feeling exhausted
The baby blues sets in a few days after giving birth and can last for a few hours or a few days. However, those feelings go away within ten days of giving birth.
Postpartum depression is often mistaken for the baby blues, but as the symptoms persist and intensify, they can interfere with your ability to complete tasks. It's unclear why some women experience PPD, but the chemical changes in your body during and after pregnancy may play a part in your mood and emotions. Symptoms of PPD include:
- Excessive crying
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Feeling numb or disconnect from your baby
- Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Feeling guilty about being a “bad mom” or doubting your abilities to care for your child
- Having a hard time making decisions or thinking
- Feeling exhausted
- Changes in appetite — eating more or less
The following experiences may put some women at a higher risk for depression:
- A history of depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue
- Low social support
- Money problems
- Relationship problems
Depression is a treatable condition. NewYork-Presbyterian has psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers on staff that are specifically trained to help mothers that suffer from postpartum depression. If you talk to your doctor about your feelings, they can prescribe medication to help that are less likely to pass into breast milk.
If you are concerned that you or your baby is not safe at home, we are here to help. The Victims Intervention Program at Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Domestic and Other Violence Emergencies (DOVE) program at Columbia University Medical Center offers free and confidential assistance to abuse victims.
It is important to note, domestic abuse isn’t always physical. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you might be in an abuse situation. You and your child could be in danger.
- Does your partner hurt you with words?
- Does he insult you and make you feel worthless?
- Does he put you down in front of other people?
- Does he hurt you physically?
- Does he push, slap, hit, punch, kick, choke, or beat you?
- Does he make you do sexual things you don’t want to do or hurt you during sex?
- Is he in charge of everything?
- Does he tell you who you can and cannot see or speak to?
- Does he control all the family’s money?
- Does he scare you?
- Does he lose his temper, get jealous or break things?
- Does he threaten to hurt you, the kids, pets, or himself?