Welcoming a baby into the family can be exciting, overwhelming, joyful and stressful all at the same time. But it can also bring along something unexpected but not uncommon: depression. In fact, it is estimated that one out of eight new mothers experience postpartum depression.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a real, clinical form of depression that can develop in a woman immediately following the birth of a child. Unlike the “baby blues,” which are normal and tend to dissipate by the end of the second postpartum week, the symptoms of postpartum depression are more severe and longer-lasting.
In addition to general sadness, mood swings, unexplained crying, irritability and insomnia, you might experience an inability to bond with your baby. You might feel detached, withdrawn, or no longer interested in things that once excited you. Other symptoms include guilt, grief, restlessness, loss of appetite, or feelings of emptiness or worthlessness. In more severe cases it can result in an inability to care for your infant or dark, suicidal thoughts.
There’s not a singular cause for postpartum depression. It may be attributed to a dramatic drop in the production of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) after birth, or the emotional ups and downs that accompany the stress, sleepless nights, and exhaustion that is common in the period immediately following the birth of your child.
But another culprit might be flying a little under the radar….the inability to breastfeed.