Postpartum, your brain and the “baby blues”

Phew! You did it! You actually gave birth to another human being!

This should be one of the happiest times of your life. But as the days and weeks go on after your little bundle came into the world you can’t shake a new feeling that’s beginning to weigh you down. Maybe it feels like a deep sadness, a lack of focus and interest in normal activities, or you seem to always be in a bad mood. Postpartum depression can erupt in many different ways and is unique to each woman who experiences it.

Here’s a little statistic. Can you guess which number is higher?

  1. The number of people who sprain an ankle each year.
  2. The number of people who have a stroke.
  3. The number of women who experience postpartum depression.

The answer is C. Postpartum depression. Are you surprised? Pregnancy care is such a high importance in our society but what about after? Arnold Lieber, MD, from says “In the first days and weeks after childbirth, a new mother goes through a variety of emotions and hormonal changes. She may feel many wonderful feelings including awe, joy and bliss. She may also experience difficult feelings, including sadness. Sad feelings and crying bouts that follow childbirth are known as the “baby blues.” The baby blues are common and tend to decrease within a week or two. This type of sadness is often attributed to the dramatic hormonal changes that follow childbirth.
Around one in seven women will experience something more extreme than the typical baby blues. Women that give birth and struggle with sadness, anxiety or worry for several weeks or more may have postpartum depression (PPD). While the baby blues tend to pass quickly, PPD can be long-lasting and severely affect a woman’s ability to get through her daily routine.”* In addition, PPD can have a significant impact on the health of the parents relationship.

How can you tell if it’s PPD?

While 15% of women are diagnosed with PPD, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that up to 20% of new mothers experience at least one or more symptoms of postpartum depression. Have you noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or your partner?
Feeling down or depressed for most of the day for several weeks or more
Feeling distant and withdrawn from family and friends
A loss of interest in activities (including sex)
A lack of focus on normal day-to-day obligations and daily habits
Changes in eating and sleeping habits
Feeling tired most of the day
Feeling angry or irritable
Having feelings of anxiety, worry, panic attacks or racing thoughts

If you have noticed three or more of these symptoms on a day-to-day basis since giving birth, it is likely you are part of the 15%.

Speak Up!

Postpartum depression symptoms may begin to show themselves in the first few weeks after childbirth, but can also appear later on, even a few months after birth.

“The first and best thing you can do is to speak up. Know that you are not alone.”

Even if you feel you have no one to turn to, that no one will understand, or no one else has gone through what you are going through.
If you are a partner of someone who just gave birth, be on the lookout for the signs and act quickly if you believe they could be a victim of PPD. If left alone, postpartum depression can lead to hallucinations, self harm and danger to the child.

We at Birthright are here for you when no one else is. We can be a listening ear, a safe haven and a connection to people who can help you overcome this. We strive to provide pregnancy support and resources before, during and even after your pregnancy.

Remember you are never alone.
The Vancouver Birthright Team