Congratulations! You’ve had your baby and are growing accustomed
to your “new normal”. During the initial postpartum period,
you may experience a range of emotions and physical adjustments. In addition
to following your care giver’s discharge instructions, try the following:
- Rest as much as possible—resist the urge to pack chores into baby’s
sleep times. Instead, sleep when your baby is sleeping, and ask family
and friends for help with meals and housework.
- Limit the number of visitors—everyone is anxious to meet baby but
having a steady stream of visitors can leave parents feeling exhausted.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water.
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin—this isn’t just for the hospital!
Studies show that skin-to-skin increases oxytocin in both baby and mom;
a hormone that creates feelings of love and happiness and is also crucial
- Always practice Safe Sleep: Place your baby in a bassinet or crib in a
back-lying position without blankets, stuffed animals or bumper pads at
every nap. Do not sleep with your baby in your bed, couch, or recliner.
- Attend all postpartum and pediatric health care appointments.
Everyone has a role in helping care for a new family. Whether it’s
preparing meals, doing chores or running errands, there are lots of ways
to help a new mom or dad, so just ask how you can help!
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Many people have heard the term “postpartum depression” but
there are actually many symptoms under the umbrella of postpartum mood
disorders, beyond depression. Postpartum mood disorders affect about 1
in 7 families. The dramatic change in hormone levels, changes in thyroid
function, sleep deprivation and the stresses of new motherhood can all
contribute to the mental health of a pregnant or postpartum mother.
While bringing a new baby into the family is often a joyous time, moms
and dads can experience a full range of emotions. Many different types
of feelings are normal, but it’s important to know symptoms and
risk factors for postpartum depression and anxiety.
Did you know that dads can experience postpartum depression to? If a new
mom is struggling with a postpartum mood disorder, her partner has a higher
chance of developing depression as well.
For a full list of risk factors, visit
Symptoms of postpartum mood disorders can range from mild to severe. It
can be hard to identify signs especially if they seem unrelated, but having
supportive people around you and keeping in touch with your health care
providers can help connect the dots sooner. Symptoms include:
- Feeling sad, helpless or overwhelmed
- Feeling anxious or panicky
- Trouble sleeping, even when baby sleeps
- Regret having a baby
- Fear of leaving the house or being alone
- Trouble coping with daily tasks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained anger or irritability
- Feelings of guilt for the symptoms above
If you are experiencing more serious symptoms, such as feelings that you
may harm yourself or your baby, call 911 or seek help immediately at your
local Emergency Department.
Find out more about symptoms and how other moms describe them at http://www.postpartumva.org/symptoms/
If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms of a postpartum depression
and anxiety, help is available.
Talk one-on-one with your healthcare provider
Visit these pages to learn about state and local resources:
Call Postpartum Support International for local resources:
*Facts and risk factor information provided by Postpartum Support International
and Postpartum Support Virginia