It is often said that becoming a new mother is a joyous and transformative experience. However, we often do not consider the mental health support new mothers may need. For some, new motherhood presents new and unique challenges. Pregnancy brings new and complex feelings for some women, and those feelings may not go away after they give birth. Likewise, new motherhood can inform feelings of sadness, anxiety, and other postpartum symptoms.
In addition, new moms may face new mental health needs that they did not have before. Some may carry some of their mental health needs into motherhood. While some post-pregnancy emotional distress is common, it is necessary to know when those feelings become a mental health concern.
The New Challenges New Mom’s Face
There is no one way to feel after pregnancy. Each of us is unique, and our emotional responses will be just as unique as we are. Still, sometimes negative emotions can start to become overwhelming.
Such emotions can be a significant challenge to some new mothers as they begin their time of bonding with a newborn child. It can be scary to face sadness during this time. Moreover, some women may feel shame because they feel their postpartum blues are affecting their newborn.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that these feelings are normal and valid. Many times they are caused by the return of hormones to normal levels and by other biological drives. Thus, in working to navigate these new challenges, it can be especially helpful to know what resources are available when postpartum sadness, anxiety, or depression become overwhelming.
Postpartum emotional distress can take a variety of forms, but some are more common than others. Let’s discuss two of the most common forms of postpartum distress and learn what we can do about them.
When Is Post-Pregnancy Sadness More Than Just Sadness?
As we said, many women experience at least a little sadness after giving birth. Sometimes called the “baby blues,” postpartum sadness can manifest in a variety of ways. Recognizing it may be difficult since it is not even always a “sadness!”
In fact, some women may experience mood swings that range from irritability and anger to tearfulness and sadness, as well as any emotion in between. However, these emotions typically return to normal within a few weeks of childbirth.
Postpartum sadness often does not require treatment. However, there is a condition that may be confused with postpartum sadness and is much more serious: Postpartum depression.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
The baby blues are one thing, but what if it is something more serious? Unlike postpartum sadness, postpartum depression is a serious condition that may affect a new mother’s ability to engage in her life or daily activities.
When new mothers experience feelings of worry, dread, or restlessness that last longer than two weeks and impact the daily functioning of mother and child, it may indicate postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is thought to affect somewhere around ten to twenty percent of all new mothers. Women who experience postpartum depression experience serious symptoms that go beyond just sadness, typically those associated with major depressive disorder (MDD).
Some of the symptoms that women may experience due to postpartum depression include persistent sadness, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and general feelings of hopelessness. Furthermore, some women may be compelled to self-harm or have thoughts of harming their newborn. As these feelings are a danger to the mother and her infant, early detection and intervention are essential to the well-being of the mother and child.
The Mental Health Support You Need When You Need It
Becoming a new mother is a wonderful experience for so many. However, even women who do not experience the baby blues will say that it can also be overwhelming, especially when it is their first child.
No matter what postpartum symptoms a client experiences, the professional care team at Alter Wellness Care can help. Whether a new mother thrives in group therapy, skills development, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or just needs acceptance or safety, Alter Wellness has programs that can be individualized for each and every client.
For Loved Ones: How You Can Provide Mental Health Support
Family support is especially important for new mothers. Here are a few rules family members and loved ones should remember about women’s mental health support when facing postpartum symptoms:
- Postpartum sadness, depression, and anxiety are biologically driven, and not a moral failing.
- There is no right or wrong way to feel, and we should encourage mental health support among new mothers as she faces these challenges.
- Medications not only help; they are sometimes necessary.
- A healing journey is personal; A new mother may just need your support and love, and that is okay.
Finding Healing in the Right Treatment Program at Alter Wellness
Talk therapy is usually the first method used to treat clients experiencing mental health distress. However, when a client is experiencing symptoms that affect their ability to function in their daily lives, additional interventions may be needed.
An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is one treatment option that can bring healing by giving order and structure back to women experiencing postpartum depressive symptoms. Using this method, clients live outside of the facility but spend a large portion of their day in group therapies that help them learn important life and coping skills.
No matter the path that leads you where you need to go, Alter Wellness Care can help you get there. Support is waiting for you as soon as you pick up the phone.
New motherhood is often a time of joy and wonder. However, for some women, motherhood can come with sadness, pain, and turmoil. If this has happened to you, we want to help you understand that you are not alone. Being a new mother can be scary, and that is why you need support for all of your needs, physical and emotional. Whether you feel overwhelmed or are experiencing postpartum symptoms, Alter Wellness Care can help. This journey is one you walk on with loved ones, and we can help your family have the tools they need to best support you in new motherhood. Call today at (866) 311-3510 and learn how we can help.