Why do I feel so emotional, angry, or intense since having my baby?
Why do I struggle with physical changes of my body after having a baby?
Was our relationship ready to have a baby?
Was I prepared emotionally to have my baby?
So many questions surface during the fourth trimester, especially for women. Our friends, sisters, or moms rarely share the hard realities that so many new mothers face. While emotional changes are to be expected, it’s not uncommon that new mothers don’t feel like themselves…sometimes for weeks on end. But where do the baby blues end and postpartum depression begin? What about other mood disorders that could be affecting me?
Postpartum Mood Disorders
During the fourth trimester, it is common for most women to experience mood changes but 20% of them will experience a more intense level of mood changes, resulting in postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. Although symptoms may present anytime between pregnancy and twelve months after birth, typically they will begin to prevail around six to eight weeks postpartum during the fourth trimester. At the six week postpartum check up, inform your doctor of any symptoms you may be experiencing, regarding from the list below.
Common Postpartum Mood Disorders
- No mood disorder: mom is feeling the normal range of emotions, similar to how she presented prior to pregnancy and now postpartum.
- The Baby Blues: during the first few weeks after childbirth when sleep deprivation has set in, sadness, weepiness or exhaustion may be present for a few weeks.
- Postpartum anxiety: during the weeks following childbirth, peaking at six to eight weeks prevailing, extreme worries and fears over the health and safety of the baby set in, sometimes leading to panic attacks or feelings of losing control, lasting weeks to months.
- Postpartum depression: during the weeks following childbirth, peaking at six to eight weeks prevailing, feelings of anger, sadness, irritability or hopelessness begin to set in and remain constant for weeks to months.
No mood disorder
- Sleep Deprivation-feeling tired
- Bonding with Baby-happens after birth
- All the Changes-feeling excited
- Crying-from joy
- Your Mind-forgetful/distracted
- Your Worry-for good reason
- You feel-happy/hopeful
- The Future-full of possibilities
- Leaving the House-something to look forward to
- After a Few Weeks-getting into a good routine
The Baby Blues
- Sleep Deprivation-feeling emotional
- Bonding with Baby-doesn’t happen immediately
- All the Changes-feeling overwhelmed
- Crying-from sadness
- Your Mind-foggy/unclear
- Your Worry-about minor things
- You feel-weepy/emotional
- The Future-seems far away
- Leaving the House-is intimidating
- After a Few Weeks-starting to feel better
- Sleep Deprivation-feeling irritable
- Bonding with Baby-extreme/obsessive
- All the Changes-feeling loss of control
- Crying-from being overwhelmed
- Your Mind-imagining worst case scenarios
- Your Worry-about everything
- You feel-worried
- The Future-seems scary and dangerous
- Leaving the House-something you try to avoid
- After a Few Weeks-you feel exhausted
- Sleep Deprivation-feeling angry
- Bonding with Baby-difficult
- All the Changes-feeling worthless
- Crying-from frustration
- Your Mind-full of intrusive thought
- Your Worry-if you are a fit mother
- You feel-nothing
- The Future-seems non-existent
- Leaving the House-is impossible
- After a Few Weeks-start to feel worse
If you’ve noticed that you consistently feel any of the above symptoms or are experiencing greater emotional changes than you normally did prior to pregnancy or during pregnancy, it’s time to ask for help. Here are some options: discuss with your pediatrician at your baby’s next check up and let them know what you have been feeling; inform your ob/gyn at your six week check up that you have been experiencing some of the above symptoms; or tell your partner and/or a friend/family member that you are not feeling yourself.
What can I do if I feel anxious or depressed during the fourth trimester?
- Ask for help from partner
- Share thoughts and feelings
- Relax or meditate when you can
- REST when you can (sleep when baby sleeps)
- Practice coping skills when becoming overwhelmed
- Postpartum Support International
- Frequently Asked Questions About Perinatal Mood Disorders
- Online National Support Groups – PSI
Need more help from a therapist?
Sometimes the need for support extends beyond self-care. If your symptoms are overwhelming to manage, impairing daily function, or if you simply need a listening ear, it may be time to speak with a professional therapist. If you are ready to schedule an appointment and live in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas, we can help. Contact us to get started. We offer virtual and in-person sessions.