Women's Clinic Blog

Motherhood can be physically and emotionally challenging 

Becoming a mother is a new and exciting experience that can bring a great amount of joy into one’s life!  While at the same time, adjusting to this new role can be physically and emotionally challenging due to a number of factors which can include lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and learning how to care for a new little being. 

Mental health disorders in the perinatal (pregnancy and postpartum) period are a significant health issue.  As many as one in five women will experience a mental health disorder during their pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period.  Perinatal depression is the most commonly diagnosed with rates as high as 16%. 

In the first one to two weeks after your baby is born, you may go from feeling happy and grateful  one minute to feeling anxious, worried, sad, irritable and tearful the next.  These rapid mood swings tend to come out of nowhere and may make you feel guilty and inadequate as a mother.  These are normal feelings and responses to the birth of your new baby and are better known as the “baby blues.”  The baby blues can occur in 50%-80% of new mothers and usually resolve within one or two weeks.  Only a small percentage (up to 16%) of mothers will go on to develop postpartum depression.

Perinatal depression may occur at anytime during the pregnancy or within the first year after the baby is born.  It may start as the same symptoms as the baby blues, but the symptoms continue beyond the two weeks and they become more severe.  Symptoms can  include a persistent sad or depressed mood, anxiousness, irritability, tearfulness, feelings of guilt, poor concentration and/or difficulties making decisions,  difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and little interest in the baby or doing things that you would normally enjoy.  Even more serious, some mothers start to have thoughts of hurting themselves or the baby.  These are not “normal” thoughts and if you are experiencing these thoughts, you should call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.  You may feel embarrassed or scared to tell others about how you feel, but there are lots of treatment options and support to help mothers cope with postpartum depression.

Unlike the baby blues, symptoms of postpartum depression require treatment and, if not treated, it can negatively impact you, your baby and your family.  Treatment options for postpartum depression include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), group psychoeducation, and medications.  There are different classes of medications and some are safer to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  It is important to discuss your options with your health care provider.  Motherisk is also a valuable resource for both mothers and health care providers, as they have the most recent data on medication risk profiles for you and your fetus or infant.    

If you think you may be experiencing perinatal depression or anxiety, please see your health care provider to discuss your treatment options. 

Community Resources:
Motherisk   www.motherisk.org or 1-877-439-2744 (Hotline)
Local Public Health Departments (depending on your regional municipality)

Posted by bernadette.ferreira On March 14, 2017 at 12:18 PM