Signs and Symptoms
The Baby Blues
Signs include weepiness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Resolves or dramatically improves the first three weeks after childbirth. Up to 80% of women will experience the baby blues.
Symptoms include feeling anxious, agitated, sleeping too much or difficulty “sleeping when the baby sleeps”, excessive worrying, tearfulness, irritability, anger, guilt and shame, feeling disconnected from your family and/or baby, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, and possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself. (10-25%)
Signs include feeling worried, anxious or very nervous most of the time. You also may experience recurring panic attacks, which include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and/or chest pain, nausea/vomiting or fear of dying. (15%)
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
This can occur during pregnancy or following a childbirth which is perceived as traumatic and usually involves distressing memories, irritability, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and efforts to avoid reminders of the trauma. Symptoms may be related to a prior traumatic experience or the birth itself. (3-5%)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Symptoms include intrusive and disturbing thoughts and/or images of harm coming to the baby, as well as a sense of horror about having these thoughts. This usually includes a preoccupation with keeping the baby safe through repetitive actions to reduce the fear and obsessions. Women disturbed by these thoughts are very unlikely to ever act on them. (3-5%)
Usually occurs within the first few days or weeks after birth and includes having strange beliefs, hallucinations, irritability and agitation, inability to sleep, rapid mood changes, and poor decision-making. Women with psychosis are not disturbed by the nature of their thoughts or find them unusual. Women with psychosis are at significant risk for harming themselves and/or their infants, and need immediate crisis intervention.Occurs in 1-3 per 1000 births (.1-.3%)
For Women With Bipolar Disorder:
Women with bi-polar disorder are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing psychosis, particularly if they are not taking medication and are extremely sleep-deprived.It is important to develop a wellness plan with a practitioner familiar with postpartum illnesses. Having adequate support is a must.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider right away and/or call Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4PPD (944-4773) www.postpartum.net. PSI is the largest perinatal support agency in the U.S. PSI’s toll-free WarmLine (English & Spanish) serves over 1,000 callers a month and is staffed by a volunteer team of PSI trained responders who rapidly refer callers to appropriate local resources, including emergency services.