The “fourth trimester” (the three months after giving birth) can be a magical time for a new mother. Mothers are bonding with their babies, establishing routines, and making life-long memories. Because there are so many physical, emotional, and social changes occurring, unfortunately, many women experience postpartum depression (PPD).
PPD during the fourth trimester can be particularly challenging because it can interfere with a new mother’s ability to care for her newborn and adjust to motherhood. Like any form of depression, it is important to recognize it and seek help as soon as possible.
The symptoms of postpartum depression can vary, but might include:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Sleep disturbances, either insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Changes in appetite, either decreased or increased appetite
- Irritability or restlessness
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Although postpartum depression is a common condition, it can have significant negative effects on a mother’s mental health and well-being, in addition to her relationships with her baby and partner. Therefore, it’s crucial for new mothers and their families to be aware of the signs and symptoms of PPD and seek professional help if needed.
One place to seek help is with someone you will often see in your baby’s first three months – the pediatrician. Pediatricians are trained to identify and screen for PPD and can provide referrals to mental health professionals as needed. Additionally, pediatricians may be able to offer guidance and support to new mothers by addressing their concerns and providing information about available resources for managing PPD.
One local resource for managing postpartum depression is Pediatric Partners’ newborn care center. Bella Bambino is dedicated to providing support and education in a nurturing environment to mothers and their newborns during the first few weeks after birth.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PPD, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Postpartum depression can be treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Support from family, friends, or a postpartum support group also can be beneficial.