Dear mom, we are glad you are here. We know how important your role is, how much you work and sacrifice for your family! We know how hard it can be, we know the struggles, we were there! We are here to listen. We don’t judge!  We want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

What causes Perinatal Mood Disorders?

Perinatal Mood Disorders don’t have a single cause, but most likely result from a combination of physical and emotional factors. After giving birth, the hormonal levels (progesterone and estrogen) in a woman’s body quickly decrease. This creates chemical changes in her brain that can trigger mood swings and anxiety. In addition, many mothers can’t get the rest that is necessary to fully recover from giving birth. The constant sleep deprivation from tending to a newborn can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, both of which contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Some women carry a greater risk of developing postpartum mental disorders. They usually have one or more risk factors, such as:

  • Symptoms of postpartum depression during or after a previous pregnancy;

  • Previous experience with mental illness at some other time in her life;

  • A family member that has been diagnosed with depression or other mental illness;

  • Experiencing a stressful life event prior to or during pregnancy, or shortly after childbirth, such as previous miscarriage, job loss, domestic violence, death of a loved one, financial problems, or personal illness;

  • Experiencing medical complications during childbirth, including premature delivery or having a baby with medical problems;

  • Having mixed feelings about the pregnancy, whether it was planned or unplanned;

  • A lack of strong emotional and physical support from her spouse, partner, family, or friends;

  • Alcoholism or other drug abuse problems.

Stresses that occur during pregnancy and early parenthood

Even if everything goes smoothly, getting used to being a parent can be hard work. When you also add lack of sleep, a colicky baby, and/or a difficult recovery from a complicated birth, you could easily find yourself exhausted and overwhelmed. If you find yourself dealing with a number of stressful situations over a short period of time, keep an eye on your moods and seek professional support if you need it.

Here are some factors that can increase a new mom’s stress:

  • an unplanned or stressful pregnancy

  • obstetric complications in the past, including fertility problems or miscarriages

  • a very long labor and complicated birth

  • severe baby blues after giving birth

  • an anxious, perfectionist, worrying personality

  • low self-esteem and being overly self-critical

  • difficulties with breastfeeding

  • a premature baby and/or problems with your own or your baby's health, including separation issues

  • sleep deprivation and low energy

  • an unsettled baby (e.g. problems with feeding and sleeping)

  • single parenthood

  • teen parenthood

  • giving birth to more than one baby (e.g. twins or triplets).

This doesn’t mean that every new mom who faces adversity and challenges will develop a mental health condition. Different combinations of risk factors affect us in different ways. Fortunately, protective factors can strengthen our mental health and improve resilience.

Protective factors

We understand risk factors as negative things that can chip away at our mental health. There are, however, positive protective factors that build us up and give us the support and skills to deal with challenges and difficulties.

These protective factors include:

  • Taking care of your physical health– exercising, eating well, reducing stress where you can

  • Building and maintaining strong support networks – family, friends, community, other new parents

  • Positive sense of identity and cultural heritage

  • Developing Good coping and problem-solving skills

  • Maintaining optimism – a belief that life has meaning and hope

  • Keeping a positive attitude 

  • Accessing available support services

  • Asking for help 

Perinatal Mental Disorder can affect any woman regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or economic status.

Only a health care professional can diagnose a woman with postpartum mental disorder. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care professional can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum mental disorder or something else. PPSC does not diagnose moms nor treat medical conditions. 

WORRIED ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL? 

Wondering where to turn for help? Doing a self-test for depression, anxiety, OCD can help you find out.

IS YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM STRONG?

Practical and emotional support are important in protecting against perinatal mental health disorders. Take this survey to see how your social support system measures up.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are concerned about someone else who may be suicidal, please call: 855-587-6373

National Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK [8255]

For grief support call 415-499-1195.

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Postpartum Support Center is a fiscally sponsored project of MarinLink, a California nonprofit corporation exempt from federal tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service #20-0879422.

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