Category Archives: Postpartum Depression

Pregnancy Depression in Men

by Allison Gamble When a baby is born, it’s usually seen as an exciting event for both the parents and extended family. However, with the new bundle of joy come a host of other responsibilities such as the stress of … Continue reading

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ICEA Blog Carinval

ICEA is hosting a new blog carinval: Topic: Increasing awareness about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. Some questions to think about when writing: How do you increase awareness among public and professional communities about the … Continue reading

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What Feminists Should Know About Birth Rape

The treatment received by laboring women from care providers during childbirth can sometimes be so abusive, degrading, and violating that many survivors of these childbirth experiences are now terming it “birth rape”. Recently, there have been blog articles about whether … Continue reading

Posted in activism, Birth Trauma, Informed Consent, Legal, Postpartum Depression | 47 Comments

Cesarean Recovery

With the number of cesarean sections increasing in our country annually, many women do not really understand or know that recovering from a cesarean section is much different from a vaginal delivery. After my first cesarean section I learned this the hard way and wish I had a couple tips on making recovery more bearable. But we often forget that the recovery after a cesarean birth is not just physical, but it is also emotional for a large portion of cesarean section mothers. Continue reading

Posted in Birth Trauma, Cesarean Section, Hospital Birth, International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), Postpartum, Postpartum Depression | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Loyally Devoted to Doctor

I recently read the book The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N Aron, Ph.D. In the chapter called Medics, Medication, and Highly Sensitive People, the author states: “Keep in mind, too, that it is common to feel an attachment to … Continue reading

Posted in Birth Trauma, Breastfeeding, Doulas, General, Homebirth, Hospital Birth, Induction, Informed Consent, Jennifer, Labor and Birth, Midwifery, Obstetricial Interventions, Postpartum, Postpartum Depression | 15 Comments

Postpartum Depression, Bottle Feeding and Infant and Mother Separation at Birth

There is a new study out by the University of Albany done by evolutionary psychologists that puts forward the idea that a woman who feeds her baby a bottle instead of breastfeeds may be at risk for postpartum depression due … Continue reading

Posted in Baby, Breastfeeding, Hospital Birth, Informed Consent, Jennifer, Postpartum Depression, Research | 1 Comment

A Serious Look at Post-Partum Depression

Post-partum depression hangs a dark cloud over what is otherwise supposed to be a happy, blissful time of unconditional love. Generalizations of tears, insecurities and hopelessness do not grasp the entirety of what PPD can entail.

A licensed professional counselor with a focus on post-partum depression recently gave a presentation to a moms’ group in my area describing symptoms, signs and prevention of PPD.

She shared a checklist that you can view online. She also recommended Post-Partum Survival Guide: It wasn’t supposed to be like this as a good resource for information, but I was unable to find it to purchase online. Surprisingly (or not), post-partum depression is still not widely studied and certainly not clearly understood. Some practitioners, be they doctors, counselors or psychologists, do not recognize PPD as an illness. For yourself or your friends, it is important to make sure that the person whose help you seek shares your philosophies and is compatible with the mom and her family.

Everyone is encouraged, of course, to research for themselves on this topic, and information provided here is not intended for medical advice. If you or someone you know shows signs of PPD, seek help. Sometimes just having someone validate the feelings is all that is needed. Other times, medication might be needed, but that is at the discretion of the doctor and client.

Here are a few suggestions, however, that are easily provided as a friend or that can usually be obtained if you only ask. We were told that these can help with regular depression, too.

Take time for healing
Eat, sleep, exercise
Take breaks
Maintain marital intimacy, dates
(does not have to include sex)
Recognize achievements even if it’s just changing the diapers all day
Laugh daily
Express negative feelings
Attend to positive feelings
, a gratitude journal might be helpful
Act to change, don’t just talk about it
Let go of self-blame
Get social support
Recharge your batteries
Let go of expectations
Have a loose structure; plan to rest
Allow some crying time
; set a timer for 20 minutes if needed, but cut yourself off when the timer goes off
Avoid major life changes, if possible

With up to twenty percent of American women experiencing PPD, it is necessary to be aware, especially for African-American women and women in lower income levels who are more at-risk.

There is also Postpartum Support International that has a toll-free helpline and is working to pass legislation in support for mothers. Please visit their site for more information. An additional good article on PPD is on Scientific American.

Know the resources in your area. Be familiar with the signs and symptoms. Be willing to help a fellow mom. Be willing to ask for help.
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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder After Childbirth

There has been a great deal of awareness about Postpartum Depression in recent years, but not so with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after childbirth. The reason for this is likely that people believed this to be a very rare disorder. Only three years ago, after my son was born and I began to experience symptoms of this disorder, there was barely any information available about it online or elsewhere. The rate of occurrence was reported to be between 1.5 and 5.9%. There were only two websites at that time that focused on this issue, both of which were from other countries.

There is a new survey out that suggests that PTSD after childbirth occurs quite a bit more frequently then previously thought. The survey is called New Mothers Speak Out and was a follow up survey to the Childbirth Collective’s Listening To Mothers II survey. The survey found that 9% of the 900 women screened met all of the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and 18% showed some signs of it.

This new data indicates that many more women are suffering from PTSD, or symptoms of trauma after childbirth then previously thought. It is not clear why there is a discrepancy in figures, if it is because the women are not seeking treatment, or they are being misdiagnosed. Either way, it is very good that this issue is being brought to people’s attention.

One of the main risk factors for PTSD is having negative interactions with care providers and staff during your birth experience, and feeling not in control of your labor or birth. When women, birth care providers, and staff are aware of these risk factors, adjustments can be made that may help prevent PTSD or symptoms of trauma from occurring. Women may decide to choose providers or birth settings where they feel they will have more control over their experience and will be respected. Care providers and staff should be aware of how their treatment affects women and strive to allow her to be in control of her own experience and to respect her wishes and individuality. It is also shown that a large amount of medical interventions can be a big risk factor for experiencing PTSD after childbirth. Both women and care providers should be aware of this and try not to use interventions that are not necessary. Another risk factor is previous trauma, which can be screened for before a woman gives birth. If previous trauma is an issue it may be helpful for the care provider and the woman to strategize on how to work with this issue during labor and birth. Debriefing shortly after a birth that was perceived as traumatic by the mother can also be very helpful for some women and this should be an option for women who find themselves experiencing symptoms of trauma.

The Wall Street Journal just ran an article about this issue entitled Birth Trauma: Stress Disorder Afflicts Moms. There is a very interesting accompanying podcast found here.

Today, there are more resources available for PTSD after childbirth then there was three years ago when I was searching for information. There is a growing awareness of the issue and this will hopefully help to prevent it from occurring in the majority of cases. In the cases where there are true emergency situations, an awareness and the subsequent adjustments in treatment of the mother and her baby can hopefully help to minimize the trauma that the woman might experience.
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Posted in Birth Trauma, Jennifer, Postpartum Depression, Research | 3 Comments