We have all heard the phrase “It takes a village” when it comes to raising a child, but it turns out that’s actually true!
80% of women experience “baby blues” in the first several weeks after birth, and roughly 1 in 5 women and even a number of non-birthing parents will end up experiencing a perinatal mood disorder (PMAD). These mood disorders can have a wide range of symptoms and span several different categories, including the more well-known postpartum depression or anxiety. They can begin at any point during pregnancy and throughout the first 12 months after giving birth.
Here are common symptoms that may help you recognize if you or a loved one is experiencing a perinatal mood disorder:
- Feeling overwhelmed and insecure
- Crying spells, hopelessness, and sadness
- Anger, irritability
- Repetitive fears, or intrusive thoughts
It is important to know that recovery from these disorders is possible with the assistance of therapy, support groups, social support and, at times, medication.
If someone you love is experiencing a PMAD, it can be difficult to know how to help. It is always important to ask the person what would be helpful for them because everyone is different in terms of what makes them feel supported, but here are some ideas:
- Bring over a meal
- Do a load of laundry (even if it means taking it from the porch and dropping it back off clean)
- Babies are adorable, I know! But, if you visit, make sure you genuinely ask how the new parents are doing physically and emotionally, and not just ask about baby
- Bring a snack or water bottle when they’re sitting with baby
- Encourage them to reach out for support from you or others if they are struggling
- Ask permission to hold or touch their new baby – they may not want you to
- Remind them they’re doing a good job as new parents
If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing a perinatal mood disorder, it is important to reach out and get support. The is a hotline and website for Postpartum Support International:
You can reach out to the hotline and they will connect you to resources in your area that can help. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, or suspect you may be experiencing postpartum psychosis, it is imperative that you are evaluated by a health professional immediately so ensure your safety and to begin the journey to recovery.
Remember – this isn’t your fault, and there are pathways to getting better. The “village” is there!