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Postpartum Care

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 for breastfeeding.
  • 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!

Are you a new mom who is feeling anxious, sad, irritable or just not like yourself? Even if this is not your first baby, you may be experiencing unexpected challenges, physically and emotionally. Our free New Moms Support Group offers an opportunity to share your experiences with other moms who may have similar feelings. The group meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., in Women & Children’s Classroom B at Winchester Medical Center. Registration is not required, and your baby is welcome. The group is affiliated with Postpartum Support Virginia. To learn more, call 540-536-8768.

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 www.postpartumva.org/causes-of-postpartum-depression-and-pregnancy-related-mood-disorders/

Symptoms

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 www.postpartumva.org/symptoms.

Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms of a postpartum depression and anxiety, help is available.

*Facts and risk factor information provided by Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Support Virginia

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