Tag Archives: home birth midwife

Baby Blues? Or is it something more?

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No matter how your pregnancy or birth went, the immediate postpartum time with your new baby can be a roller coaster of emotions. Not only can your hormones be in a state of chaos, but you just added a new human to your family and the planet. Talk about a major life shift!

Many people spend the first few days after a new baby comes experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from intense feelings of joy, love and happiness to feeling overwhelmed by, and sometimes fearful of, the responsibility brought on by this new, helpless creature. Then mix in quite a bit of sleep deprivation and we have the perfect setting for baby blues and/or postpartum depression (PPD). All this change leaves many people wondering, “Why am I so sad? Do I have postpartum depression?”

So let’s define some terms first.

What are the Baby Blues?

According to WebMD, “The baby blues — having mood swings, feeling sad or anxious, crying for no reason — usually goes away on its own after 1 to 2 weeks.” It is generally believed that baby blues are characterized by intense feelings ranging across the scale of emotions and aren’t limited to feelings of sadness.

What is PPD?

The official word is that PPD generally starts a few months after baby’s arrival and can kick in at anytime up to 1 year after baby comes. Keep in mind, some studies now show that it can affect some parents later than 1 year. The following list of PPD symptoms comes from the Mayo Clinic website.

“Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.”  Anyone can experience postpartum depression, but those that have experienced depression and anxiety in the past are at increased risk.

A Word to Partners and Non-Birthing People

In some cases, a new parent is experiencing depression symptoms but doesn’t believe that what they are experiencing is in fact PPD. This is where a great partner, friend or family member can be invaluable. If you sense that your loved one is in this situation, talk to them about it and help them get the help that they need. Also, keep in mind that partners can get PPD too! (They went through some major life shifts here too!) While giving birth is certainly a risk factor for developing PPD, it isn’t the only one. To this end, adoptive parents should also be on the look-out for PPD and shouldn’t hesitate to seek out additional resources and help.

So What to Do?

  1. Check out the many resources listed below.
  2. Build a support network of close friends and/or family and ask for help. Sometimes just having someone to lend an extra hand around the house or run errands can be very helpful. Asking for help can be hard but it can be such an important hurdle to overcome. Seeking out and managing helpers is a great way for partners to help prevent PPD by giving the person experiencing it free time to focus on and tend to their needs.
  3. Find other parents to connect with that might be experiencing similar parenting ups and downs.  Look in your community for local meet-ups, playgroups, support groups, etc. (See parenting groups listed below)
  4. Hire a postpartum doula! Most people agree that postpartum doulas are worth their weight in gold. These wonderful people help with many things – baby care, nursing support, household chores, holding your baby so you can shower, providing local community resources to help stave off depression or to help manage it if you are experiencing it. Many people think postpartum doulas are only for the first few weeks following birth – and they can be extremely helpful during this time – but they can be hired for later on as well.
  5. Talk to your care provider about what you are experiencing. Mandala Midwifery Care provides postpartum care for clients for 6 weeks after birth and, during this time, we screen for signs and symptoms of PPD. We are also available after the 6 week visit to talk, make assessments and to make referrals. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
  6. Call a helpline such was the wonderful one at Postpartum Support Minnesota. They are great at listening and then, if applicable, helping you get the additional care you may need. Their phone number is: 612-787-PPSM (7776).
  7. Reach out to a postpartum support therapist. Postpartum Support International can connect you to qualified professionals: http://www.postpartum.net.
  8. If you or your spouse feels like they may harm themselves or their little one(s), please immediately contact your care provider, call 911 or seek help at your local emergency room.

 

Great Resources to Check Out

(A word of caution:  Mandala Midwifery Care is committed to using gender neutral  and culturally aware language and seeks out resources that do the same, where possible. We apologize as some of the resources below may not be completely inclusive in their language.)

BabyCenter, L.L.C, PPD symptoms quiz: http://www.babycenter.com/5_could-you-have-postpartum-depression-ppd_10351692.bc

Postpartum Support Minnesota: http://www.ppsupportmn.org/communityresourcelist. Great Helpline!

Womenshealth.gov, outline of differences “between ‘baby blues,’ postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis”: https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/depression-pregnancy.html#f

WebMD, “Winter Babies and Postpartum Depression”: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/postpartum-winter#1

WebMD, “A Visual Guide to Postpartum Depression”: http://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/ss/slideshow-postpartum-overview

Psych Central, “5 Damaging Myths About Postpartum Depression”: http://psychcentral.com/lib/5-damaging-myths-about-postpartum-depression/

Parenting Groups

If you are LGBTQ identified, check out the parenting resources at the Queer Birth Project: www.queerbirthproject.com  We offer a free monthly in-person support group for new and prospective parents on the second Saturday of the month.

If you are a Twin Cities mom of color, check out the mom’s support group offered by Ahavah Birthworks. www.facebook.com/ahavahbirthworksorg/

Amma Parenting Center in Edina, MN offers fee-based new mom and new parent classes in addition to many other pregnancy and new parenting classes.   These classes encompass education, support and community building.  http://ammaparentingcenter.com/

Blooma offers more than just yoga! Most of their yoga classes are part yoga, part pregnancy and new parent education, and part community.  In addition, they also offer free new mom groups in both their Minneapolis and St. Paul locations.  www.blooma.com

Everyday Miracles is a wonderful community resource that offers low-cost and free childbirth education and doula services.  In addition, they offer new mama classes.  Check out their calendar for more details.  www.everyday-miracles.org

 

Sweet Dreams – Sleep Ideas for Families with Babies

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When my son was a newborn and we would visit my older sister, she would always be militant about getting her kids off to bed on time.  I thought she was being too firm and she would always look in my direction and say knowingly, “Sleep is sooooo important.” Though, she and I have had very different sleep strategies for our children, over the years I have often come back to the deeper truth in her words. Maintaining good sleep habits or figuring out what that meant for our little one didn’t always come easily to us.   Are you experiencing sleep issues with your kiddo? Is good sleep a priority in your household?

Through the Queer Birth Project, I co-host a parenting support group for new parents who are LGBTQ identified.  Sometimes this group will discuss topics that are important to LGBTQ parents specifically, but many times the discussion turns to topics that all parents face.  At our last monthly meeting, the new parents discussed sleep – and more specifically getting more of it!

Here are some of my best tips and some additions from the group to get more sleep:

  1. Prioritize good sleep habits for your family. Commit as a family to the importance of getting everyone a good night’s rest. Establish a regular bedtime routine and follow it as many nights as possible.  Work to accommodate age-appropriate lengths of sleep.  Adults should work on healthy sleep habits as well – sometimes this takes compromise amongst the adults!
  2. Sleep when the baby sleeps, if possible. This applies to both parents during the newborn period but should also apply to any parent of an older baby/child who is sleep deprived.  This isn’t always practical as other responsibilities may make napping or early bedtimes impossible but, when possible, adults should prioritize sleep too.  Everyone at the parenting support group agreed wholeheartedly that this is easier said than done!
  3. Get more sleep to get more sleep. It seems counter intuitive, but for most babies and some toddlers, skipping naps can make for harder bedtimes and increased night waking.  Consistent napping and bedtime routines are important for most babies.  This can be a balancing act for busy families and those with multiple children.
  4. Question rigid ideas on where a baby should sleep. Studies show that safe and unsafe sleep happens for babies who sleep alone in a crib and for babies who co-sleep.  The key is to find safe sleep practices using sleep locations that facilitate the most amount of sleep for all family members.  Keep in mind this may need to change as your baby(ies) change and grow. Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs.
  5. Have honest conversations about sleep and sleep deprivation among the adults in the household. If one parent is exclusively nursing or can sleep with the baby during the day, it may make more sense for that parent to handle more of the nighttime parenting.  Households function better with only one sleep deprived parent. The parent getting the most sleep should step up and handle more tasks to keep the household functioning smoothly.   If one parent is doing most of the nighttime parenting during the week due to work schedules, then find creative ways for that parent to get breaks and additional sleep on the weekend.
  6. Get a 4-hour chunk of sleep at some point in the night. Be open to creativity here.  This may mean going to sleep early in the evening when baby goes down initially or maybe staying in bed at the end of the night when partner gets up with baby for the day.  Many new parents get 7-8 hours of sleep over 10-12 hours in bed.
  7. Be wary of aggressive sleep training regimes. If your gut tells you it isn’t right for you or your baby, listen to that.
  8. Adjust your expectations, Our society has many expectations on what babies and their parents should or shouldn’t be doing and bedtime and sleep is no exception. One of the most common questions new parents get is, “Is she/he sleeping through the night?”  New babies aren’t designed biologically to sleep through the night and, as they grow, formula fed and breastfeed babies tend to have different sleep patterns.  Generic statements around what babies should and shouldn’t do may not apply to your little one.  What matters are the needs of your baby at various stages and how your family chooses to respond to those needs.
  9. “This too shall pass….” Babies and toddlers change at a tremendous rate and so do their sleep patterns. Know that if your little one is having sleep trouble, they will likely move on to more restful nights in the future.
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Wishing You Sweet Dreams

Some resources that may be helpful:

The No Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley –  www.nocrysolution.com

The Baby Sleep Book, by Martha and William Sears – www.AskDrSears.com

The Science of Baby Sleep – www.secretsofbabybehavior.com

Breastfeeding and Nighttime Parenting – www.kellymom.com

Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory – www.cosleeping.nd.edu

The Gentle Sleep Book – www.gentlesleeptraining.co.uk