Postpartum Depression in Austin, TX

​​Give Me Some Home Birth Meetup Love. . .

Mandy, Kate and Genevieve…Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this group together each month. I can’t tell you what an encouragement it is to me as a mother, woman, wife, and possible future doula/childbirth educator/birth photographer - we’ll see! I love every topic and discussion. These are such special years and I’m grateful to have a group of ladies to share it with and bounce thoughts off of… such a safe and uplifting place to be.Blessings on all of you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Postpartum Mood Disorders at The Austin Home Birth Meetup

We had an exceptional turn out at The Austin Home Birth Meetup yesterday. I was delighted to see so many familiar and new people who were curious about learning and sharing information about postpartum depression and other Genevieve and Benmood disorder of the childbearing years, such as postpartum anxiety. Clearly this is a topic we could stand to learn more about and share far and wide. Clearly women are suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety and are not sure how or where to seek support or even if they should. Most women who do make an appointment to see a therapist and actually follow through by going to their visit start by saying “I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is bad enough to be considered postpartum depression.” It is hard to tell if what one experiences with the new sensations of caring for a newborn is normal or not. Of course sleep deprivation by itself can cause anyone to feel depressed, cranky and a little bit (or a lot) crazy. Throw in some insecurity about taking care of a new little person completely dependent on you and some isolation as many of us have nuclear families, with a side of some major hormonal shifts and you’ve got a recipe for the possibility of a major meltdown.

It is said that one in three women will experience a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD). Here are some risk factors that may influence the prevalence of the depression: (not everyone who experiences PPMD will have risk factors present)

  • Personal or family history of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder
  • Previous PPMD
  • High stress over past year (a move, divorce, major illness, gief/loss, other small children at home, infertility treatments)
  • Problems in relationship with spouse/partner
  • Weak support system
  • Financial stress
  • Pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
  • Perfectionist characteristics
  • Higher Education (the higher the degree, the higher the risk)
  • Personality characteristics with high expectations and high need for control

Copyright Kelli Fouldrod, 2013. Posted with permission.

Like I said, it can be difficult to differentiate between the sleep deprived mother of a newborn and the depressed mother. Do not assume that if she looks good or her house is in order or she seems to have it all together, that she is fine. Here are some signs that a PPMD may be present from Postpartum Support International:

  • Sleep disturbances, she can’t sleep when the baby sleeps
  • Feelings of anger and irritability
  • Lack of interest in the baby or other children
  • Appetite disturbances
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
  • Crying and sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Thoughts of harming self or baby
  • Intrusive thoughts

Many women assume these thoughts and feelings are normal parts of new motherhood. Please, if you see any unusual behavior in a new mother you may be close to, say something and encourage her to have an evaluation with her doctor. If PPMD is present, therapy and treatment can hasten recovery.

PPMD is temporary and with proper treatment, recovery can be complete. There are many treatment options for women with PPMD. The most common treatment and often most effective, is talk therapy. There are psychotherapists who specialize in PPMD and many also offer support groups for postpartum women. Medication, used temporarily, can drastically improve wellbeing and offer support to a mother to help her manage therapy with other lifestyle changes. Talk to your care provider for local resources or see my resources page. The bottom line for PPMD treatment includes increasing support in many areas: seek out a support group for moms with new babies, find your tribe of women who can lend a hand, ask for help with meal planning and prep, hire a doula, when someone offers to help, take them up on it. Nutritional changes can also aid in recovery (and prevention). Seeking guidance from a Clinical Nutrition Counselor can supplement your treatment plan. They may recommend increasing Omega-3 EFA’s, specifically EPA, Calcium/Magnesium, Vitamin D, etc. Also, ask your doctor to check your thyroid function. Thyroid dysfunction can look very similar to depression and anxiety and 73% of postpartum women have thyroid disorders.

Complete recovery from PPMD is possible. The sooner treatment is initiated the sooner recovery and healing will begin. Check in with your midwife regularly throughout the first year of your baby’s life. In my home birth practice here in Austin, I like to have mama/baby over for tea to check in at 3, 6 and 12 months for PPMD evaluation and conversation. The six weeks postpartum care you get with your care provider just isn’t enough to adequately evaluate for changes in the first year postpartum. Lastly, if you feel something unusual, say something to your care provider. Get the help you need and deserve.

We will have more conversations about PPMD at The Austin Home Birth Meetup. Join us!

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