Postpartum warning signs: When to call your care provider

It's important to distinguish between the normal "baby blues" and true depression. The baby blues are characterized by a short period of volatile emotions, commonly occurring between the second and fifth postpartum days and affecting between 80 and 90 percent of new mothers.

In contrast, postpartum depression (PPD) usually begins at four to eight weeks postpartum (but sometimes later in the first year) and can persist for more than a year. PPD affects from 10 to 16 percent of new mothers.

In this article you will learn about:

  • Postpartum Help
  • Breastfeeding Help
  • Responding to Your Baby's Crying
  • Setting Aside Time for Each Other
  • Relaxing

Symptoms cover a wide range, including irritability, frequent crying, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, lack of energy and motivation, disturbances of appetite and sleep, lack of interest in sex and feelings of being unable to cope with new demands. Anxiety often shows up in lack of affection for the baby and, in turn, self-blame and guilt.

PPD can have serious implications for the infant as well. A number of studies show an association between maternal depression and later developmental problems in the child, including behavioral disturbances, ill health, insecure attachments and depression.

The outlook for mothers suffering from PPD is good if diagnosis and treatment are started early. When there is a long delay in starting treatment, the depression may last longer. Often, short-term psychotherapy is all that's needed.

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