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- Nurse Barb
Having a new baby to care for is an emotional experience! Add to that the lack of sleep, feeding every 2 to 3 hours round the clock, a hormonal roller coaster….oh, yes and your body’s recovery from childbirth, plus your partner and family and, well, you get the idea. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the changes.
Mild mood changes are absolutely normal and expected for the first few weeks after giving birth. Every mom goes through a period of adjustment as her old way of life adapts to her baby’s needs, unique temperament, personality, as well as the baby’s sleep cycles, feeding challenges and all the other aspects of their care.
What every mom needs
All moms need support when a new baby arrives. Many times, moms who are feeling overwhelmed need to:
• Know that they aren’t alone
• Be encouraged to get more sleep
• Have other trusted caregivers help out by caring for the baby
• Be given permission not to be perfect
• Let go of pressures to keep up appearances
Comparing Your Experience to others on Social Media
Most new moms I’ve worked with over the years find motherhood much more challenging than they ever expected. This is what they tell me in the privacy of the exam room at 2, 4 and 6 weeks after giving birth. And because there can be a lot of shame involved when things are slightly less than perfect, it’s the rare mom who is comfortable posting anything but perfect photos and commentary on social media.
This sets everyone up for a false sense of inadequacy. You might be covered in spit up, be dragging around on only 2.5 hours of sleep, without a shower in days, hair in a ponytail and happen to glance at a friend’s photos and become instantly dejected, “Look at Emily, she’s lost all her baby weight, the breastfeeding is a breeze, her baby isn’t puking all over her and I bet she takes a shower every day.”
While adjusting to motherhood can be a breeze for a few lucky new moms (with full time help and a stylist on call), the vast majority of new moms need about 3-6 months to figure out how to care for their baby and themselves and, yes, get a shower every day.
If your pregnancy, birth and/or breastfeeding experiences are not what you expected or your baby has a health challenge, the feelings of being overwhelmed can become amplified.
Many new moms must also contend with managing complex relationships with well-meaning extended family members or be asked to conform to cultural traditions that may not resonate with their current situation. These can also add more stress to an already challenging situation.
Recognizing Postpartum Depression
There has been so much about postpartum depression in the news lately. Many new moms and their families wonder where the line between the normal “baby blues” ends and postpartum depression begins.
The following are examples of what may happen with more severe mood changes, and/or those that last more than 2 to 3 weeks. Anytime you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, do reach out to a health care provider.
Call your OB or Pediatric provider if you are:
– Feeling out of control
– Feeling sad and crying often
– Unable to sleep even when you are exhausted
– Having increased anxiety, worry or panic attacks
– Unable to care for yourself or the baby
– Having recurring thoughts or obsessive behaviors
– Feeling hopeless, guilty or ashamed
– Having disturbing thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
When in Doubt, Reach Out
Take or share this online risk assessment that can help to identify whether the symptoms you are experiencing should be addressed.
Safe and effective treatment options
Postpartum depression can be safely treated through one-on-one or group counseling, safe medications, or a combination of both. There are a variety of classes, support groups and treatments available no matter where you live.
You can find more resources through Postpartum Support International
For moms who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Maternal Outreach Mood Services (MOMS) program at El Camino Hospital is a resource I count on for my patients. This specialized program provides education, counseling and medical evaluation for expectant and new mothers.
Disclosure: I am working with El Camino Hospital to provide information on the programs and services that are available here.
Recovery from a traumatic brain injury is a complex process that can require months of intensive therapy, recuperation, and even learning how to accomplish everyday tasks all over again. The degree of total recovery experienced and the time involved are largely related to the type and severity of your injury. The following steps provide a good start to help you envision the road to that recovery.
1. Take Stock of Your Resources
Whether it’s benefits offered by your employer or support offered by family and friends, take stock of what and who you have to help you. In the early days following a brain energy, these resources can be invaluable to both long-term recovery and short-term comfort.
2. Seek Financial Protection
An injury lawyer can provide assistance in managing personal finances during recovery. This is especially helpful if (more…)
One of the most common reasons that teens come to an Emergency room is because they’ve harmed themselves. Sad, but tragically true. Unfortunately, this scenario becomes even more tragic, as the majority are not receiving the emergency mental health assessments that they need.
There is a mountain of evidence that points to the importance of getting your nightly ZZZZ’s. Recent research found that people with insomnia were almost twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as people without insomnia. Researchers wonder if lack of sleep leads to a weakened immune system, setting people up for more inflammation, which can have a negative effect on cardiovascular health.
In my practice, I see many women who have insomnia from anxiety and racing thoughts at night, which may increase the release of stress hormones increasing blood pressure and causing microscopic damage to blood vessels. Loss of sleep not only can lead to health issues, it can also cause depression, irritability and make concentrating more difficult and frustrating.
There are other reasons why people have difficulty sleeping, from restless leg syndrome to acid reflux, to having young children at home who wake frequently. Caregivers who are up throughout the night also have interrupted sleep.
No matter what your sleep issue is, it’s important to have it evaluated.
We know that postpartum depression is a serious concern. Identification and prevention is key to helping moms avoid feeling more than just baby blues so that they can care for themselves and their babies.
A recent study on a small group of pregnant women found that those who took DHA, Omega-3 supplements during their pregnancy had a decreased risk of postpartum depression. According to the lead author, Dr. Michelle Price Judge, it’s thought that as pregnancy progresses into the 3rd trimester, more of the mother’s stores of DHA are transferred to the baby, which causes a depletion in the mother.
I saw a patient the other day, who is battling depression. She and I were talking about some of her early experiences as a child and there came that moment when I could see that no matter how resilient or strong a person is, it’s extraordinarily difficult to recover 100% from being treated badly.
According to an excellent article by Kate Kelland from Reuters, “A study published earlier this month found that childhood hardship, including suffering abuse or losing a parent or having a parent with addiction problems, also raised the risk of a range of chronic physical illnesses in later life, such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma.
A recent review of 15 studies found that when the Omega 3 DHA was used in combination with EPA, people with depression had some slight improvement. The researchers caution people who are depressed NOT to rely only on Omega 3’s, but to consult with their mental health professional. The research didn’t find any benefit for DHA alone, and only saw it when the amounts of DHA and EPA were similar.
According to a survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration about 8.4 million Americans had suicidal thoughts in the past year and 2.2 million made plans to kill themselves. One million people attempted suicide. These numbers are staggering and yet point to the fact that a significant number of Americans are depressed and anxious, with reports ranging from 8-25%. (more…)
Mrs. Jane Early (not her real name) is well past 80 and comes in with her husband who’s in his 90’s. They led a very exciting and full life, traveling around the world with their kids, living in exotic locales for their jobs, she a professor, he a lawyer and entertaining. Recently Jane came in for a visit, carrying her portable oxygen tank and needing a wheelchair to get to the office. Her husband was taking his time, but pushing his beloved wife to her appointment.
When she finally was able to catch her breath, she talked about how difficult life was, how many of their friends had already died and how her life was shrinking. (more…)
Did you know that having Diabetes means that you’re more likely to be depressed. We don’t know if it’s the calorie restrictions, the frequent blood tests or a combination of factors that increases the likelihood of depression, but it’s there. What we do know is that when people with diabetes have their depression treated, their blood sugar gets better! Amazing.