Few events in life are as unforgettable as having a baby. But there are plenty of other days after the Big Day that aren’t rosebuds and rainbows. Suddenly, you’re adjusting to less sleep, a changing body, and to being cooped up with a little bundle of … demands?
Related: The New Mom Survival Guide
It’s an almost inconceivable thought: being so depressed that you have no interest in, or are incapable of, caring for your baby. Yet it happens: Between 800,000 and 1 million women are diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD) every year in the U.S.
Here’s what you need to know about this common, yet entirely treatable, condition.
You’ve heard plenty of stories (among friends, on social media, or maybe even in celebrity tell-all books) of women experiencing postpartum depression. The postnatal depression you might not have heard about is PPND (paternal postnatal depression)—the one your partner may suffer from after your little bundle of joy arrives.
When I had my son, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. The lack of sleep, the constant caring for a newborn, the willy-nilly. It all floored me. About a month after my son was born, a dear friend from high school came to visit.
Placing a near-naked baby on his mother's bare skin, a technique known as skin-to-skin contact, enhances bonding and may help prevent symptoms of depression after childbirth, Canadian researchers found.
Blissful. Joyful. Glowing. These are words that typically describe moms-to-be. But what about the other possibilities: blue, anxious, pregorexic? Pregnant women’s struggles may slowly be coming out of the closet, but many moms-to-be still suffer in silence with emotional issues, and the majority are never diagnosed or treated. The result can be problematic for their babies as well as themselves.
I confess, pregnancy offered me scant preparation for motherhood. A strange blend of contemplative retreat meets extended shopping spree, my pregnancy was, for the most part, all about me. After my son, Jordan, arrived, my days suddenly narrowed to a series of repetitive actions that were all about him: nurse, burp, diaper, sleep, repeat.
Omega-3 fish oils, particularly DHA, are touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women because of their role in fetal brain and eye development and in helping to prevent postpartum depression (PPD) in new mothers. Yet a recent randomized controlled trial—considered the “gold standard” of medical research—found that the children of women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy had no better cognitive or language skills at 18 months than the children of women who took a vegetable oil placebo.
Although new mothers may say they feel little but exhaustion and forgetfulness, their brains are actually growing in response to their new role, Yale researchers have found. A new mother's novel experiences can alter the anatomy of her brain, explains study author Pilyoung Kim, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist. "The brain is primed by hormonal changes during pregnancy and sensitized to changes in the environment—namely, the arrival of the baby."