During pregnancy, women may experience a variety of emotions. These can range from guilt and shame, to anger or fear, sadness, worry, love, excitement, and hope – all at once! New moms (including adoptive mothers) may experience the “baby blues.” You may have feelings of disappointment about your birth experience. Or, perhaps you struggle to feel attached to your newborn. Furthermore, you may experience intense highs and lows throughout the day and night while you adjust to a new baby. You are not alone!
Does this sound familiar?
You are home from the hospital, and have started adjusting (sort of) to your new role with your baby… but it’s nothing like you imagined. The sleepless nights due to the sound of your crying (more like screaming) newborn seem endless. And now, you have the added frustration and guilt around feeding your baby. Between breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding, and endless formula options, it seems like there’s no right choice.
Motherhood is Life Changing
You feel like you are a not good mother. And, the general feelings of loss of control are all catching up with you. You haven’t showered in days. It’s to the point that you don’t feel like yourself anymore. Everything about life before baby seems like a distant memory. You’ve read all of the parenting books and ask questions in your social media mommy groups. However, the advice you keep hearing just doesn’t seem to work. It seems that you are fighting with your spouse more than ever before. And, over things you would have never imagined! There is no manual to help navigate you through this new territory known as motherhood.
You are feeling helpless, hopeless, and overwhelmed. In the moments you find a break from the external noise and pressure, the internal dialogue feels just as distressing and exhausting. You want to regain control. Further, you want to start being able to feel like yourself again and feel like you know what you’re doing as a mom. Plus, you want to be able to not only take care of your baby, but also yourself. And, of course, you want to experience happiness with your baby and your partner. After all, that’s why you chose to have a baby and grow your family. Motherhood is one of the most wonderful and difficult things that we will ever do. So, we all need support on this journey from time to time.
We see you, mama!
The therapists at our Castle Rock, CO counseling office know this season can feel really hard. And, they know that you are exhausted, both emotionally and physically. BUT, you and your mental health are important. So, your mental health should be prioritized! Help and support is available in Castle Rock. Furthermore, you can access our prenatal counseling and postpartum support from anywhere in the state using online therapy in Colorado.
It has been found that mothers who seek early intervention often report relief from their presenting issues, as well as a sense of renewed purpose. Taking the time now to increase self-awareness can move you beyond survival mode. Thus, transforming your experience of motherhood. Getting help from a prenatal counselor or postpartum therapist is paramount to getting better!
Facts About Maternal Mental Health & Disorders
One in five women will develop a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. These may be experienced during pregnancy, called the antepartum period. Likewise, disorders can also be developed within 12 months of giving birth, called the postpartum period. In fact, maternal mental health disorders are the most common complication of childbirth.
Postpartum depression is one of the most well-known maternal mental health disorders. Mood disorders such as this are referred to as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). There are a few other common PMADs, including perinatal traumatic stress disorder, perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder, and perinatal psychosis.
PMADs are Quite Common
When experiencing any maternal mental health complication, it’s common to wonder, “why me?” Or “what did I do wrong?” However, you did nothing wrong. PMADs are actually extremely common. In fact, approximately 20% of new moms develop a PMAD. Further, there are many risk factors for developing PMADs. Some factors are biological, referred to as “nature.” And other risk factors are environmental, deemed “nurture.”
Regardless of the reason, it is not your fault that you are struggling. It is also important to acknowledge that first-time mothers are not the only ones susceptible to PMADs. If you are experiencing a mood disorder after having your second, third, or fourth child, your feelings are just as valid as our new mamas’.
Contributing Factors for Developing Maternal Mental Health Disorders
Difficult experiences during pregnancy or birth
Miscarriages and infertility. These struggles can take a toll on your mental and physical health during pregnancy and afterward. What about multiple babies? If you gave birth to more than one child, this can certainly be overwhelming. Does your baby have special needs? Are they colicky or have a difficult temperament? Have you had challenges feeding your baby? All of these experiences have the ability to heighten the chance of developing a PMAD.
Traumatic pregnancy or birth
Did you have Placenta Previa, Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), Preeclampsia, or Gestational Diabetes? Were you on bed rest? Did you have an emergency C-section? Or was your baby in the NICU? Health complications during pregnancy or while giving birth can be traumatic. While the experience of giving birth could still have been very special, the negative parts of giving birth are still important to address with a therapist. These painful or uncomfortable parts of your pregnancy or birth can certainly take a toll on your mental health.
Personal or family history of mental illness
If you or your family have a history of mental illness, connected to pregnancy or not, you may be at an increased risk of developing a PMAD.
Significant changes in your life can greatly impact your mental health at any point in life. During pregnancy and postpartum are no exceptions to that. Examples of significant life changes include a recent move, relationship challenges, marital discord, losing a loved one, or losing a job.
Lack of social support
Do you feel like there’s no one you can confide in? Is your spouse/partner deployed? Does your family live in another part of the country or world? The major life change of giving birth can often leave mothers feeling isolated and disconnected from their support systems.
A history of abuse or a traumatic childhood
Abuse may include domestic violence, physical violence, sexual assault, or other forms of abuse. Further, people often underestimate the impact of childhood trauma on their adult lives. Profound childhood experiences can have lasting effects and can often show up when you become a mom.
Perinatal Mood Disorders
Signs & Symptoms of Perinatal Depression
- Anger & irritability
- Lack of interest in baby
- Appetite or sleep disturbance
- Crying & sadness
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in things that previously brought you joy or pleasure
- Self-harming thoughts (self or baby)
Signs & Symptoms of Perinatal Anxiety
- Constantly worrying
- Fear that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Appetite or sleep disturbance
- Inability to sit still
- Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Postpartum Mood Disorders
What’s the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?
Most new moms experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth. Baby blues commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. It typically appears within the first two to three days after delivery. It may last for up to two weeks. However, some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression. This is known as postpartum depression (PPD). On rare occasions, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.
Symptoms of Baby Blues
Signs and symptoms of baby blues typically only last a few days to a week or two after your baby is born. Symptoms of baby blues may include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Appetite problems
- Reduced concentration
- Difficulty sleeping
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) may be mistaken for baby blues at first. But, the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer. And, they can interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth. They may begin earlier, during pregnancy, or up to one year after birth.
PPD signs and symptoms may include:
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Excessive crying
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Intense irritability and anger
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after childbirth. The signs and symptoms are generally more severe and may include the following:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive energy and agitation
- Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
**Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.
Prenatal Counseling and Postpartum Support at Authentic Connections
The therapists at our practice in Castle Rock, CO are passionate about working with moms to help them take a moment to breathe. To connect with their own God-given intuition and wisdom. Our counselors want to help you reconnect with yourself as a woman. Further, we want to empower you to stand confidently in the belief that you are the best mom for your baby.
We are passionate about supporting new moms and growing families in the prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum periods. Furthermore, we encourage mothers to bring their newborn or infant children to sessions to support the important bonding and attachment period after birth. However, we also fully encourage mothers to take care of their emotional wellness independent of their newborn/infant. We believe this all depends on what a woman needs (whatever she chooses is ok!).
Begin Prenatal Counseling and Postpartum Support in Castle Rock, CO
Whether you are a first-time mother or a seasoned parent, your mental health matters. The overwhelm that you can feel does not have to take over. And, help is available in person or online. Reach out to our Castle Rock, CO-based counseling center by following the simple steps below:
- Call our counseling office at (720) 370-3010 x100.
- Schedule an initial appointment with our Intake Coordinator.
- Free yourself from the overwhelm of motherhood and connect with yourself and baby.
Other Services Offered at Authentic Connections Counseling Center
At our Castle Rock-based counseling office, we work with individuals and couples. Furthermore, from teen counseling to marriage counseling, we can meet your family’s mental health needs. Our skilled therapists specialize in anxiety treatment and depression counseling. And, many of them are certified in EMDR therapy for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment. Our professional counselors are excited to help you and your family work toward mental wellness.