“And I guess that’s why they call it the blues……” LOVE that Elton John song. And no, I do not know the rest of the words.
Postpartum blues. What gives? Why are women just randomly crying out of the blue after delivery when there’s nothing wrong? Why is no one talking about this? I was posed these exact questions in my office the other day while seeing a patient for a routine visit. Her exact words were: “you know Dr. Angela, I follow your blogs and all and it seems to me that everyone is always talking about the delivery process, their vaginas and how much they are throbbing, or healing from repairs. Everyone mentions postpartum depression and what to look out for. Nobody ever talks about the baby blues and how lots of moms just start crying for no reason after birth but are perfectly fine otherwise. Can you talk about that? A lot of moms that I know and friends of mine that are moms experienced this and state that it’s normal but no one ever mentions it. What about the moms that are crying and it’s perfectly normal? Talk about that!”
And so, here we go. Postpartum blues. Turns out, my patient is/was right. Most of the time my patients are right. Lots of women experience this. Upwards of 80% as quoted in some literature. And just why would a new mom just randomly burst into tears for no apparent reason? WHY WOULDN’T SHE?!?!?!? I mean, you just went through a harrowing experience, whether you delivered baby vaginally or via c-section. Your hormones are all over the place……
Becoming a mom is NO JOKE! Gone are the days of alone time, waking up whenever you feel like it, having peace and quiet in your house……It’s like going from 6th to 1st gear in a matter of seconds. For those of you that drive a stick shift, you’ll relate to this. Everyone is so focused on how wonderful motherhood is, how beautiful the new baby is….We’re not supposed to talk about how hard it is, how your body is different, how you feel like you’re doing everything yourself while your partner sleeps.
Folks feel guilty for acknowledging these things. DON’T! Being a mom is and can be a real MUTHA! Adjusting to your new role as caregiver, all the while trying to maintain the rest of what you do; i.e., run a household, be a wife, mom to other kids, etc., is quite a tall order. So if you need to shed a tear or two while you adjust; CRY, CRY, and CRY some more. It’s normal. Par for the course. Your way of maneuvering through it.
So when does it become an issue? Specifically, when does postpartum blues become postpartum depression? The difference is, postpartum blues is transient; typically lasting no more than 2 weeks. It doesn’t affect your ability to function as a person, mom, etc. Postpartum depression comes to mind when symptoms of tearfulness, guilt, etc. start interfering with your ability to be who you are. You may start having difficulty sleeping, eating, concentrating, feeling worthless or as if you aren’t a good mom. You may even have feelings of wanting to harm yourself. 10-20% of women experience postpartum depression.
With the implementation of fourth trimester care, specifically seeing moms 2 to 4 weeks post delivery instead of the traditional 6 weeks postpartum, we can hopefully identify moms at increased risk for developing postpartum depression and get them the resources they need.
Got it? Hoping this blog post was both informative and entertaining.
Until next time,
Look Better. Feel Better. Be Better.
Wife, mother, Midwesterner, and award-winning OB/GYN, Dr. Angela is equal parts best girlfriend and bold professional, supporting women’s health with innovative approaches to care and heavy doses of humor. Dr. Angela has done more than launch a successful practice, she has defined herself as a voice for a new generation of womanhood, established her ASK DR. ANGELA brand committed to authenticity, and built a community rooted in trust, candor, and compassion.