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The Truth About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition that can make you feel hopeless or sad for no particular reason. It usually occurs within the first few months after you have given birth, although it can also happen after a stillbirth or miscarriage.

Postpartum Depression Compared to the Baby Blues

Postpartum depression is often confused with the “baby blues,” which usually only lasts a few weeks after childbirth. Many new mothers experience drastic mood swings and usually feel like they are overwhelmed by all of their new responsibilities. It is completely normal and safe, as long as it only lasts a few weeks.

The difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression is the severity of the symptoms and how long it lasts. Postpartum depression is more frequent and usually makes it difficult for the new mom to care and bond with their baby. It will also last for months instead of weeks.

Postpartum Psychosis

In extremely severe cases, woman may experience postpartum psychosis. This can cause frightening delusions and dangerous behavior. It is absolutely necessary that new moms have a support system and they immediately visit a physician if they are experiencing any of the signs of postpartum depression. An experienced family physician, gynecologist, or psychiatrist will be able to diagnosis whether or not it is severe enough to be considered postpartum psychosis.

The Cause of Postpartum Depression

There is no specific medical reason why some women will experience postpartum depression while others will only get a mild case of the baby blues. It may have to do with how tough the pregnancy or childbirth was on the mother, how often the baby cries, how often the mother sleeps, or how much support is given to the mother. It could also be based on how their body handles the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

Are You Suffering from Postpartum Depression?

There is no way to know for certain what causes postpartum depression, but it is important to identify the severity of it and learn to cope with how you are feeling. Once you know that it is affecting you, you will be able to try different coping mechanisms so it doesn’t interfere with spending time with your precious new baby.

Coping with Postpartum Depression

The first step is accepting that you are having trouble controlling your emotions or that you are feeling overwhelmed. Admit it to yourself and to your support system. New moms should never hesitate to ask their spouse and/or family to help out more during those challenging first few months. Make sure to also mention it to your physician, gynecologist, or psychiatrist.

New mothers often feel like they need to spend every moment with their child. They will stop participating in their own hobbies and they may even isolate themselves from social groups. Ask your support system for 20 to 30 minutes a day of personal time whenever it is possible. This time should be spent relaxing, having fun, or exercising. All of those activities will help re-energize you mentally and physically.

Another way to cope with postpartum depression is talking with other moms about how you are feeling. You will be less likely to become depressed once you realize that you are not alone. Being a mom will never be easy, and postpartum depression can make it even more difficult. If you think you could be suffering from postpartum depression, make sure to talk to someone about it.

How Postpartum Depression Affects a Woman’s Sexual Desires

Having a baby changes a person’s life greatly. Not only because there is another precious person to take care of, but also because it affects the intimacy level of the parents. As if having an obstacle to achieving intimacy with the one you love wasn’t already a problem, when a woman has postpartum depression, the door to intimacy can seem closed. Numerous women suffering from postpartum depression have said that being intimate with their partner was the last thing on their minds.

The Mayo Clinic defines postpartum depression as a form of depression experienced by many women after giving birth. Some signs of postpartum depression include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Suffering from bouts of intense levels of irritability and anger
  • Constant fatigue
  • Loss of sexual appetite
  • Losing a zest and joy for life
  • Feeling inadequate to be a mother
  • Severe mood swings
  • Having a hard time bonding with their newborn
  • Withdrawing from associating with family and friends
  • Numerous thoughts of causing harm to oneself as well as their baby

This mixture of emotions about life and about being a mom can be moderate or severe. So it’s only natural that sex is placed on the back burner. After all, when a woman feels inadequate, sex is not going to be the first thing on their mind.

The thing to remember is that suffering from postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy. A woman is not a bad person because she is suffering from postpartum depression. This form of depression doesn’t just affect the new mother, but it affects her partner as well. The severe mood swings and lack of interest in sex can greatly affect their partner, causing sexual problems.

The key to getting back to a normal routine is to first treat the depression. The root cause of the sexual problems has to be taken care of first, before as a couple the new parents can slip back into their normal sexual routine. It can take several weeks and sometimes months to get back to what both people deem normal, everyday life.

Once the issue of the postpartum depression has been handled, then it’s time to enhance that “loving feeling.” The first step is for both parents to get plenty of rest. Yes, there is a desire for sex, but if both parents don’t get the rest they need then the true enjoyment of sex won’t be there. Once both parents are completely rested, then they’ve got to make time for sex. Between working and parenthood, finding time for sex can be difficult but it has to be there. Even if both parties find 30 minutes in their day, it’s important to just make time to get intimate with one another.

If problems persist in the bedroom, then consulting a medical doctor may be needed. Most often, however, when both parents get plenty of rest and gently work back into a sexual routine, the intimacy level will increase.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum Depression and After Birth Anxiety

Today we know that more and more women are suffering in silence due to symptoms of Postpartum depression and anxiety. We also know that women are not the only ones who are dealing with this issue. Fortunately, men are becoming more aware and alert to their partner’s behavior, while also wondering how these symptoms will affect their relationship.

Access Cigna’s free online toolkit on maternal depression, including interactive depression assessment

A mother’s emotional health is as important as her physical health during pregnancy and after delivery. That’s why, during May, Maternal Depression Awareness Month, Cigna is encouraging soon-to-be and new mothers to get screened and understand the symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression.

“Having a new child is a very exciting and emotional time for the entire family,” said Dr. Doug Nemecek, senior medical director for Cigna’s behavioral health business. “While mood swings or bursts of crying are often caused by ‘the baby blues,’ it’s important for new parents to identify more serious mental health issues like postpartum depression or birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Depression is often not diagnosed or treated – talk to your doctor about preventive screening and treatment.” Read more

Keeping the romance alive

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow on Postpartum Depression

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow discussed her challenges with postpartum depression on the first of a seven part national TV series last week. She said she felt like a zombie and could not connect with her son, Moses. Fortunately for her, her husband  was attuned to the subtle differences in her behavior, began noticing more prominent patterns and emotional changes and finally urged her to get some help.

Paltrow went on to explain the shame that she felt, not knowing what was happening to her. We see this with many women and because they don’t know what is going on emotionally, they don’t get the help they need.

Postpartum depression can seriously affect every member of the family and it’s important for women and men to seek support from family, friends and healthcare professionals.

Despite the fact that Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin may seem like the perfect couple, she didn’t feel like the perfect mother after Moses was born in 2005.

“There’s this shame attached to it because if you say, ‘I had a baby and I couldn’t connect to the baby,’ it’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” she revealed. “I think we feel such shame. I just didn’t know what was wrong me. I couldn’t figure it out. Postpartum depression never occurred to me.” Read more

Keeping the romance alive

ROMANCE 911: Keeping the Romance Alive through the Demands of Parenthood

When a baby enters the picture, the dynamics of your emotional and sexual expression are forever changed. The love between two must now make room for three. However, the love you will develop for your new family member will be quite different from anything you’ve ever experienced before.

Yet the reality is that most couples are under-prepared for the changes that accompany parenthood and sometimes, the impact is nothing short of an emotional crisis. Both your personal and social life change significantly, and any pre-existing financial challenges are further heightened.

Although much has been researched and written about romantic relationships, far less has been studied regarding how love changes between a man and a woman after the baby is born. The romantic love that brings couples together is an intense exchange between two people, but when a child enters the picture this exchange not only redirects its focus, it becomes one way. And because a baby’s demands for care are intense, this forever changes that bond as a couple as they become both partners and parents.

Yet it also highlights an important part of the intimate bond between couples – care giving- which has a great impact on one’s level of relationship satisfaction. Despite this, little attention has been given to this aspect of sexuality. Instead, the focus has been predominantly on sexual desires and techniques in achieving physical satisfaction. Read more