As a new mom, there is almost nothing more shocking than realizing that even though you should be thrilled that you successfully created life and have your arms around the beautiful, new baby that you spent nearly 10 months growing inside your own body, you’re simply not. And you’re not just sad, you’re deeply depressed and/or anxious. Any mom who has experienced postpartum depression (PPD) knows how confusing and absolutely frightening it is to experience those extreme feelings after giving birth.
Most women expect to be the happiest they’ll ever be when they give birth, but for many that’s just not the case. According to the American Psychological Association, as many as 1 in 7 women in America experience postpartum depression. Not only that, but a recent study asserts that Latinas may actually be at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression by as much as 40 percent. According to Cronkite News, the study says that the increased risk may be “explained in part by socioeconomic status, community of residence, and immigrant status.” Add that to the fact that women of color are much more likely not to receive the care they need postpartum and the general stigma around mental health issues there is within the Latinx community, and there’s a perfect storm for Latina moms suffering from postpartum depression to live in silence.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. There should be absolutely zero shame for moms suffering from PPD or postpartum anxiety. The hormonal fluctuations after giving birth are wild and even more so for moms who may be breastfeeding their babies. There are actual, biological factors that contribute to postpartum depression and no mom should ever feel like there’s something wrong with her if symptoms begin to surface (this can happen from days to as much as a year after giving birth).
Though the condition was long written off simply as “having the baby blues,” there’s actually a significant difference between normal mood swings and feelings of anxiety and sadness, and clinical postpartum depression. “Baby blues,” a mother is likely to get through on her own and will pass quickly, but the severe symptoms of postpartum depression will linger and possibly worsen over time and should be addressed by a medical professional.
Keep reading to find out the signs of postpartum depression so you can seek help if you feel that you may be suffering from it:
- Depressed mood
- Severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Trouble bonding with baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite
- Insomnia and/or restlessness
- Severe irritability
- Unusual feelings of anger
- Unfounded fear of being a bad mother
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, guilty, ashamed and/or inadequate
- Severe anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Thoughts of self-harm, death and/or suicide
- Thoughts of harming your baby
If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, you should reach out to a medical professional for help as soon as possible. These symptoms do not indicate the “baby blues,” which usually passes within a couple of weeks after delivery, but rather actual PPD which can go on for many months without treatment.
Because several of the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression like lack of sleep, fatigue, irritability, and not eating enough or eating too much, maybe thought of as normal for life after baby, it’s especially important that you pay attention to any changes in your feelings or behaviors and to notice whether these signs fade or go away as you adjust to motherhood. PPD may also surface as much as over a year after giving birth, so moms should be aware of any changes in their thoughts, behaviors, and moods, even as the baby gets older. If signs and symptoms of postpartum depression don’t go away or get worse instead of better, it’s almost certainly PPD and you should reach out to your doctor.
Some studies have suggested that Latinas are actually 41 percent less likely to start treatment for postpartum depression, and while some of that is attributed to lack of information and healthcare accessibility, there may also be cultural reasons at play. We all know that certain negative messages about mental health dominate the narrative in Latinx communities, and it’s something that needs to shift ASAP.
Not only that, but as a woman of color, it’s much more likely that your physician may not offer treatment, so you’ll have to speak up for yourself, something that can be incredibly difficult to do for women who are dealing with shame and stigma. Suffering from postpartum depression does not make you weak or a bad mom, it makes you 1 of 7. It makes you a normal mom dealing with an abnormal hormonal balance, and there are things that can help you feel better and make your experience with motherhood much more joyful and rewarding.
Whether it’s therapy, practicing stress- and anxiety-relieving techniques, herbal supplements, or medication, there are many treatments available for postpartum depression, that can improve your quality of life as a new mom and help you bond better with your baby. Your baby needs a healthy and stable mom and you deserve to feel your best at all times. You will never get this time with your baby back, and if getting treatment for PPD means you will have fonder memories of it, you’ll never regret it.
As someone who dealt with postpartum anxiety that bordered on postpartum depression after having my first child and did not get help because I thought I could handle it on my own, I can tell you that letting yourself suffer because of embarrassment or pride or because your tia might judge you, is not worth it. Call your doctor, find a therapist and get some help.
You can call 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) #1 En Español or #2 English to reach Postpartum Support International. If you are having thoughts of suicide, there is help available. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at, 800-273-8255.