While motherhood is thought of as a "joyful" life event, research indicates the majority of mothers experience a range of emotions as they adjust to their new identities. In fact, 85% of new moms experience the "baby blues" post-birth. The "Baby Blues" generally last 1-2 weeks and can include tearfulness, sleep concerns, feelings of overwhelm, and worry/anxiety. The "Baby Blues" are a normal response to the fluctuating hormones and life-changes of new parenthood. While upsetting, within a week to ten days, these symptoms begin to improve.
Postpartum Mood Concerns
Postpartum mood concerns are the #1 medical complication associated with childbirth. In fact, it's that 15-20% of new mothers experience perinatal mood concerns (PMADs). Perinatal mood symptoms are similar to the "Baby Blues" except they last longer and symptoms worsen over time. PPD can include: feelings of hopelessness, irritability, negative thoughts/feelings about being a mom, lack of interest in the baby, anhedonia, endless worry, and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts, or thoughts about hurting the baby.
Perinatal mood concerns are caused by social, emotional and biological factors, including, but not limited to: fluctuating hormones during the postpartum period, history of mental health concerns, lack of social support, past familial trauma/abuse, repeated pregnancy loss, and birth trauma. Unfortunately, PPD does not 'go away' on its own and left untreated, can worsen over time. The good news, help is avaiable and you are not alone. Like many mood concerns, PMADs respond well to a combination of talk therapy, medication (when necessary) and group or social support.
How psychotherapy can help
While scary, PPD responds well to medication and talk therapy. Dr. Fraga has extensive and specialized training in assessing, diagnosing, and treating perinatal mood concerns. She also co-facilitates a postpartum support group at UCSF for the Great Expectations Pregnancy Program.
You can read more about postpartum mood concerns and find additional resources here:
Postpartum Support International