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Baby Blues! 5 signs you’re heading down the road of post-partum depression

The decision to have a child is a natural step for a couple wanting to start a family. However, such a decision should come only when a woman feels secure, loved and happy. A new born baby should never serve as a “problem solver” if a couple are experiencing problems, or as a “time-filler” if a mother is unhappy with her relationship with her husband or feels the need to fill her time.
In our collectivistic culture, we tend to experience social pressure from close relatives and friends, pushing a woman to take such a decision earlier. A mother should never succumb to such pressures unless she feels ready emotionally, physically and financially. Here is why:
Most of us have experienced signs of hormonal mood swings, especially during our menstrual cycle. The same hormones that are responsible for our PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) might cause postpartum depression in women after giving birth. Postpartum depression might occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery. Here are signs that might mean you’re heading down that road:

1. Negative feelings toward the baby: Feelings of anxiety, irritation, tearfulness, and restlessness are common in the week or two after pregnancy, and are natural. These symptoms almost always go away soon, without the need for treatment. However, if these symptoms do not go away within a few months’ time, postpartum depression may occur. The first symptoms usually come in the form of negative feelings towards the baby, or feelings of rejection towards your new born child.

2. Intense irritability and anger: The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. It is natural for a mother to feel anxious, however when such emotions start affecting your relationships and change your character it’s a sign that there might be a more serious problem. Other problems might include loss of concentration and having low energy levels at various times during the day.

3. Loss of interest in daily activities: Changes in a mother’s schedule are natural after giving birth, especially with a newborns fluctuating schedule of eating and sleeping. Adjusting to such changes might take time and can prove difficult at the beginning; however a mother is expected to adjust to such changes in a few months’ time. Troubles begin when a mother loses interest in her daily activities and stops engaging activities that she previously enjoyed, these might include work, leisure activities or meeting up with friends. This might also affect her intimate relationship with her husband, where she might not be interested in sexual intercourse, or lose interest in spending time with him. Another aspect that might be affected is her sleeping pattern, where often women with postpartum depression suffer from insomnia or over-sleeping.

4. Mood swings: Since hormones trigger the birth and healing process for a mother, they also have a side effect of causing “mood dips” and feelings of sadness, this is much like the way smaller hormone changes can affect a woman's moods before she gets her period. However, if such feelings persist past the 3 month healing period, they might develop to excessive sadness, crying, and feeling of guilt or worthlessness.

5. Malicious thoughts: If such symptoms are present all at once, a mother can feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and incapable of dealing with such a huge change. In cases where mothers lack the correct support system or feel they are isolated, they might develop thoughts of hurting the baby or hurting themselves. This is a dangerous sign and mothers should report this to their doctor as soon as such thoughts develop.
Such symptoms can be overwhelming to deal with, however not all mothers are at risk of such symptoms , following is a list of risk factors that puts expecting mothers at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression:
1. You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
2. You're having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
3. You have a weak support system
4. You have financial problems
5. The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted.

If you feel that you are experiencing any of the signs mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact us at haneen@bettermommies.com.