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Postpartum recovery – it’s not just physical

Postpartum recovery – it’s not just physical

Postpartum blues, depression and anxiety are not uncommon in a women’s journey into new motherhood and having a new infant in the house can make you suddenly feel very isolated and alone.

‘Baby Blues’ are very common and affect up to 80% of new mothers. Rapidly changing hormone levels after birth and the birth experience itself are thought to cause this condition. Postpartum blues tend hit new mothers 3 to 5 days after giving birth with symptoms including:

- Mood Swings
- Teariness
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Feeling Anxious

These symptoms generally go away after a few days and don’t need to be treated. Having loving support and positive affirmation from your partner and loved ones at this time will be helpful, for yourself and for taking care of your new infant.

What if it’s something more?

If your symptoms of baby blues don’t go away after a few days you should let your health professional know as it could be a sign of developing postnatal depression or anxiety. As a new mother it can be hard to tell the difference between symptoms of depression or anxiety vs the struggles of life with a newborn – the lack of sleep and demands of new parenthood are difficult for everyone. If you are feeling a bit low or overwhelmed try talking to someone about it – it could be something more. Postnatal depression and anxiety need specific treatment for your own wellbeing as well as that of your new baby.

Postpartum depression is serious and can affect your behaviour and physical health. It can leave you feeling disconnected to your baby, including not loving or wanting to care for them. These feelings can be mild through to severe. Depression is a common problem post delivery with 1 in 9 new mothers suffering from postpartum depression and 1 in 10 suffering from postpartum anxiety.

Symptoms of Postnatal depression include:

- Feeling moody or restless
- Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless or sad
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- Crying a lot
- Not feeling connected to or having an interest in your baby
- Having no motivation or energy
- Eating or sleeping too little or too much
- Trouble making decisions or focussing
- Memory issues
- Feeling like a bad mother, worthless or guilty
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Headaches, stomach problems or aches and pains that don’t go away

Symptoms of postnatal anxiety include:

- Excessive worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Feelings of dread

If you have any of these symptoms after the baby blues should have gone away, there is lots of support available.

Where to get advice and support:

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