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Understanding Postpartum Emotional Reactions

Most women expect to adjust easily to the arrival of their new baby. They anticipate a period of feeling tired and disorganized, but they also assume that they will feel good about themselves, their babies and families.

In addition, new moms know that the joys of motherhood can also be gift wrapped with a range of feelings including - sleep deprivation, low energy levels, life changes, adjustment and coping with the baby blues. Sometimes these feelings become so difficult that a new mom feels overwhelmed.

The different postpartum emotional reactions vary in relation to time of onset, length of the episode and severity of the symptoms. It is helpful to provide an explanation of these conditions as described below:

The Baby Blues
Within the first three to five days after delivery, up to 80 percent of moms experience transitory tearfulness and depressed mood. It only lasts for a few days only, and has been associated with the hormonal changes involved with the onset of lactation. No treatment is required for the baby blues as the experience comes to an end spontaneously.

Difficult Postpartum Adjustment
Usually begins within the first three months after delivery or adoption. It is characterized by symptoms of depression and or anxious moods, which cause marked distress in new moms. It differs from postpartum depression in that the symptoms are not as severe. Yet the difficulties are extend beyond the time frame for the baby blues.

Postpartum Depression
This is defined as tearfulness, despondency, feelings of inadequacy and inability to cope. It differs from the baby blues in that the condition is not transitory. In addition, it differs from a difficult postpartum adjustment as new moms are more severely impaired in their ability to cope when living with postpartum depression.

The onset of postpartum depression may begin immediately after delivery or several months later. The symptoms and experiences are similar for early or late onset. The depression may occur after any birth, not necessarily after that of the first child, and the experience of new moms whom becomes depressed after adopting a child can be essentially the same as that of a birth mother.

Postpartum Psychosis
Is characterized by the loss of contact with reality for a period of time. This condition is rare, affecting only one or two women in a thousand. It is important to note that postpartum psychosis requires psychiatric intervention, which involves medication and possible hospitalization.

Maxine has over 16 years experience in providing Clinical Social Work to individuals and families. Her dedicated team welcome the opportunity to discuss how our services can be of assistance to you.

Maxine Fyffe-Roberts B.Sc. (Hons), BSW, RSW
By Essentially You
Phone 289 997 2136

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