Have you recently had a baby or has someone close to you had a baby in the last year? Did you know that 1 in 5 women experience mood changes after baby? Postpartum mood disorders (PPMD) or often called postpartum depression (PPD) not only affects women but has the potential to affect her relationships and her infant’s development. Early intervention is important for families and in Northern Ontario alone it is estimated that over 3500 families are impacted each year by PPMD. Both research and experience show us that women who get help feel better quickly and have a greater chance of building secure attachments with their babies and have less relationship stress with their partners.
Feeling Blue after Baby?
Right after birth women may experience the “postpartum blues” or “baby blues” which is a normal but short-lived experience that happens in the first few days after birth. Many new mothers feel worried, sad, overwhelmed or angry after the birth of a baby. These feelings can be mild or intense and are caused by:
- physical and hormonal shifts in pregnancy and birth
- lack of sleep and
- the adjustment of caring for a new baby.
Up to 80% of new moms can have the baby blues but the good news is that moms do feel better as the “blues” usually go away within the first two weeks after delivery.
Postpartum Mood Disorders
If after two weeks, the mood changes are still present then the mother may have a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD). PPMD is a term that describes maternal mental health and can include depression, anxiety and can be experienced from mild to severe forms.
Symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders:
- feeling low, sad, empty or tearful
- loss of interest/pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
- changes in appetite or sleeping
- difficulty bonding with baby
- feeling helpless and overwhelmed
- anxious and feeling worried all the time
And in rare cases:
- hearing voices
- thoughts of self-harm or thoughts of harming others
If any of this sounds like you, or someone close to you, they don’t have to suffer in silence. You don't have to be afraid. Help is available!
What Can You Do?
- Rest when the baby sleeps
- Try to follow a simple Daily Routine
- Ask For Help - don't try to do it all yourself
- Choose one or two chores a day
- Take Care of Yourself - shower and dress each day
- Take Time For Yourself - go out for a walk, meet a friend, talk with other mothers
- Talk About How You Feel to people you are comfortable with
- Play and Enjoy the Good Moments with your baby
- Give Yourself a Pat on the Back - adjusting to motherhood is hard work
- Consider individual counselling
- Consider medication options
If you have signs of postpartum depression or anxiety, reach out. Tell your health care provider.
Support and Resources
PPMD Group Therapy
Consider taking part and meet other women who are having a similar experience after baby. Women who have attended this group have given great feedback and reported fewer symptoms after completing the group therapy.
To get connected with the group, women can self-refer or be referred by their healthcare provider by using the standard Mental Health Outpatient Program (SJCG) referral form indicating “postpartum group”. Bus tickets and childcare can be provided. For more information call 624-3416 or visit St Joseph's Care Group's Group Therapy for Postpartum Mood Disorders .
Home Visiting Support
The Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit has public health nurses and family home visitors that can support you. Learn more by calling 625-5900.
24-hour Crisis Response Service Canadian Mental Health Association Thunder Bay: (807) 346-8282 and Toll-Free: (888) 269-3100
Exercise and Peer Support
Exercise and peer support are great ways to improve mood and socialize with others. Locally, there are lots of ways to connect with other moms, such as mom and baby drop-in programs (see the Babies’ Day Out program).
Resources in the District
North of Superior Mental Health Services:
- Geraldton (807) 854-1321
- Longlac (807) 876-2235
- Manitouwadge (807) 826-4517
- Marathon (807) 229-0607
- Nipigon (807) 887-2632
- Schreiber (807) 824-2867
- Terrace Bay (807) 824-3238
For Further Information
Call a Public Health nurse: (807) 625-5900
or toll-free: 1-888-294-6630