Mood Swings | Fit Pregnancy

Ask the Experts

Mood Swings

I've been really moody since my baby was born. What's happening?

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A: 

It's normal to experience a roller coaster of emotions after childbirth, says Steven Dubovsky, M.D., professor and chairman of the psychiatry department at State University of New York in Buffalo. Not only are your hormones still running high, but your entire life has changed. You have a new identity and more responsibilities. You might be overcome by the magic of childbirth yet regret that it did not go as planned (especially if you had a Cesarean section). You might feel insecure about being a parent. It's called the postpartum ("baby") blues, and it affects about 70 to 85 percent of new moms.

Postpartum depression (PPD), on the other hand, is more serious. Affecting an estimated 10 percent of new mothers, it often develops about two to three weeks after delivery and can persist until a woman gets treatment. Mothers with PPD experience days filled with profound sadness. They may have dark thoughts about themselves and their babies and even contemplate suicide. Call your doctor or midwife if you experience any of these symptoms, and do so immediately if you think you could harm yourself or your baby. Medical care, usually in the form of counseling and medication, helps dramatically.

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