First thing’s first: it’s normal to feel off. While you may feel alone and different, know that the vast majority of new moms deal with some form of mood issue after giving birth. To make matters more challenging, social media often doesn’t help. For anyone struggling to adjust to their role as a new parent, the filtered, flawless photos of smiling moms seeming to bond effortlessly with their babies can be a serious setup for comparison, anxiety, and even despair.
Nonetheless, one to two weeks of postpartum emotional ups and downs are perfectly normal and often referred to as the “baby blues.” About 80% of new moms experience this condition, which may include feeling sad, irritable, anxious, overwhelmed, or even depressed.
You may lose your appetite or have trouble sleeping — as uncomfortable this all may be, it’s totally okay and may not merit clinical treatment as long as it resolves within two weeks.
If you’re feeling disconnected from your child and/or loved ones, you’ve lost pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, or you’re having frightening thoughts and/or thoughts of hurting your baby or yourself, you may have a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD) like postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum anxiety. These diagnoses are nothing to be ashamed of and they’re more common than you might think — in fact, up to 1 in 7 women go through it.
If any of the following symptoms last more than two weeks, it’s time to get help: anxiety or panic attacks, sadness, irritability or anger, trouble sleeping, reduced concentration, reduced interest in activities you used to enjoy, difficulty bonding with your baby, excessive crying, feeling worthlessness, shame, or guilt.
These issues can all be treated with professional guidance. If you’re having intrusive thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, more immediate help is critical — call 911 or the National Hopeline Network at 1–800-SUICIDE (1–800–784–2433) as soon as possible.
If you’re feeling the “baby blues” and would like emotional support on how to re-balance your life, goals-based coaching might be right for you. However, if you’re experiencing PMD, one on one therapy and/or group support can often play a really critical role in weathering the storm of PMD. And in this latter case, while medication isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone, in some cases, it can be an essential tool. Regardless of your unique situation, know that it’s absolutely not too late to get help. In fact, even severe PMD is entirely treatable.
Octave Health is the nation's first practice supporting all aspects of emotional well-being. We offer personalized plans using the right combination of therapy & psychiatry, coaching & classes to best fit clients’ lives in a safe space that provides confidence and calm. Grounded in science, the Octave community enables new moms to experience profound change that is just as measurable as it is meaningful.
Together, we’ll navigate through this significant time of change.
We invite you to speak with an expert clinician during a one-on-one consultation. In this initial conversation, you will talk through your current situation, needs, and values. In the process, you will receive thoughtful guidance on a personalized plan, as well as be matched with a therapist, coach, group, and/or class that best meets your unique needs.
Below is an excerpt from an article “Taking Care of Mental Health During Pregnancy” written by one of our therapists, Kristin Scarlett, based out of Octave New York (Bryant Park). Kristen offers a Pregnancy Support Group that covers everything from maintaining healthy relationships to bonding with baby, coping with work issues, and overcoming body image challenges.
Treatment for PMD isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Every person is different, and every treatment strategy may be composed of different elements. Here are some of the most common treatment plans:
Working one-on-one with a trained therapist can be a critical method for overcoming negative thoughts and feelings — during pregnancy and any other time in life. There are many different types of therapy models and philosophies, so doing some research can help you find a provider who’s the perfect fit.
Antidepressant drugs aren’t always necessary to treat depression symptoms during pregnancy, but in some cases, they can be essential. Working closely in an open and honest way with a medical doctor you trust is the best way to figure out if medication is the right treatment for you.
Practicing awareness around your thoughts and feelings is an important skill for anyone, not just expectant mothers. While meditation and mindfulness may not combat severe symptoms, learning to tune into your thoughts and feelings may help you cope. Amid all the frenzy in your day, carve out time — even just a few minutes — to sit by yourself, notice your breath, unravel any tension that’s built up in your body, and pay attention to your thoughts.
Building a community can go a long way in keeping you feeling grounded and understood. While friends and family are of course important, finding solace in people who get exactly what you’re going through can be a huge relief and important outlet. Seeking out pregnancy support groups where you can be open and honest about your feelings and experiences and hear what other women are going through can help normalize your journey and make you feel much less alone.
Octave offers a Pregnancy Support Group that covers everything from maintaining healthy relationships to bonding with baby, coping with work issues, and overcoming body image challenges. In addition, we offer a New Moms Group (Virtual) that aims to reduce feelings of isolation and help you identify symptoms and red flags of postpartum depression. We'll expand the discussion to topics including: self care, maintaining healthy relationships after baby, managing emotions, body image concerns, decisions about work, and more.
Learn more on our website at our groups page or book a free consultation below.