To help me brainstorm a topic for May, I took some time to stroll through the blogs that had been written in the past few months. As I glanced at the old topics, I realized it had been a while since I wrote a blog that focused on parents. Since this month is recognized as a time to raise awareness for mental health, I thought this could be a great opportunity to talk about some common mental health concerns that parents face (National Alliance on Mental Health, 2019).

Having a baby comes with LOTS of feelings.  However, it seems common for people to only talk about the positive emotions. For instance, when someone is expecting, we often hear phrases like, “These are going to be the best years of your life,” or “Just wait until you hold them, you’ll fall in love immediately.” I am sure many of you have heard similar phrases. It makes sense that when such a joyous moment is about to happen, we naturally prepare parents for the wonderful emotions they may experience. After all, so many parents find themselves crying tears of joy or feeling overwhelmed with love as their little bundle of joy is placed in their arms. Though parents probably wish that moment when they meet their new baby for the very first time could last forever, we know that it cannot. Time stands still for that precious interaction, then the world keeps spinning. After this whirlwind of positive emotions embraces parents, we often do not talk about the feelings that might follow.

Parents who welcome a new baby often experience a wide range of emotions. Though we tend to talk about the feelings of joy and excitement, it is common for parents to have other emotions. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (2018) shares that following the birth of a child, around 50% to 80% of mothers will experience the baby blues. You have probably heard this term before, but I thought we could spend some time discussing the basics of the baby blues as it seems it is sometimes confused or viewed as the same as postpartum depression. The experts tell us that the baby blues is usually temporary as symptoms often become more severe by the fourth or fifth day after giving birth, but then tend to go away within two weeks. Some common symptoms of the Baby Blues include: feeling anxious, irritable, and tearful (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2011). Though these symptoms subside for many parents, there are times when they continue after two weeks and lead to what is known as postpartum depression (Chisholm, 2017).

We may not hear people talk about it often, but postpartum depression is common (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2011). In fact, nearly 1 in 7 mothers will experience depression either during pregnancy or after giving birth (Zero to Three, 2017). Though the experts are not certain what causes postpartum depression, it is important to mention that ANY woman can experience this type of depression within the first year following childbirth (AAP, 2018; Chisholm, 2017). As you read this, you might be wondering why we do not hear more people talk about postpartum depression even though it affects so many individuals and is quite common. Experts have found that many of those who have this type of depression may feel embarrassed or overwhelmed by the emotions they are experiencing. Society tell us that having a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest times of our lives, yet feelings of sadness often accompany the welcoming of a new baby. Due to this, many parents are afraid to ask for help as less than half of women with postpartum depression seek treatment (Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, 2011).

If you are someone who believes you might be experiencing postpartum depression, you are not alone, and YOU ARE NOT a bad parent. Parents who experience depression still have babies who adore them (AAP, 2018; Zero To Three, 2017). It is also important to mention that postpartum depression can be treated (AAP, 2018). Healthcare providers can support parents who may be experiencing this type of depression. The experts tell us that some of the common symptoms may include:

• Feeling sad

• Having unusual anxiety or worries

• Feeling extremely cranky or irritable

• Eating or sleeping more than normal or having trouble with being able to go to sleep

• Having trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions  

                (Zero To Three, 2017)

Though the symptoms of postpartum depression are often associated with women, the AAP (2018) reminds us that welcoming a new family member can be a difficult transition for all parents. This means that partners may also experience symptoms of depression but can seek help from their healthcare providers as well.

I would like to thank you for stopping by to check out our blog for May. Though this month is recognized as a time to raise awareness for mental health, I challenge everyone to advocate for individuals to be informed about the baby blues and postpartum depression all year round. If you are someone who uses our Growing Great KidsTM and Growing Great FamiliesTM Curriculum, you can find a list of modules below that can support you in sharing information about the baby blues and depression with parents. I hope you have a wonderful month and swing by to check out our special topic for June!  

Modules to Support Families:

Growing Great FamiliesTM

Unit 3: Module 8…When Depression is a Concern

Growing Great KidsTM Prenatal

Unit 3: Pregnancy and the Developing Baby…Module 6: Preparing for the Birthing Process

Growing Great KidsTM Birth-12 Months

Getting Acquainted…Module 2: Baby Blues and Postpartum Care

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, December 17). Depression during & after pregnancy: You

are not alone. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/agesstages/

prenatal/delivery-beyond/Pages/Understanding-Motherhood-and-Mood-Baby-Blues-and-

Beyond.aspx

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, October 17). Postpartum depression & breastfeeding.

Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/

Pages/Postpartum-Depression-Breastfeeding.aspx

Chisholm, A. (2017, February 8). Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret. Retrieved from

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/postpartum-depression-worst-kept-secret-

2017020811008


Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2011, September). Beyond the “baby blues”.

Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/beyond-the-baby-blues


National Alliance on Mental of Illness. 2019. Mental health month. Retrieved from

https://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth


Zero To Three. (2017, May 30). Perinatal depression: More than the baby blues. Retrieved from

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1889-perinatal-depression-more-than-the-baby-

blues