Psychological Care for New Moms
The arrival of a baby changes a woman’s life in many ways. And although the baby needs care, so does the mother. In this article, psychologist Úrsula Perona talks about the psychological care of new moms.
Today we’d like to speak about the importance of psychological care for new moms. When a child is born, a new mom is born as well. But the care and attention one and the other receive are quite different.
The new mom just experienced nine dizzying months of overwhelming physical and psychological changes. The tiredness, physical discomfort, and emotional ups and downs that have accompanied her for nine months culminate in childbirth. But they’re far from over.
This is because new moms face the exhausting and stressful challenge of caring for a newborn. And, sometimes, the shadow of depression appears.
According to the WHO, 40% of women in developed countries suffer from a mental disorder during or after pregnancy. In Spain, the exact percentage is 20%. Let’s delve deeper into this.
What’s the postpartum period?
It’s a period of physical and psychological adaptation in which the woman who just gave birth must get used to her new life.
People usually imagine this stage as a joyful one. However, the physical changes, such as hormonal imbalance or breast milk production, along with the anxiety and anguish about their new role as mothers, can cause feelings of insecurity and doubts regarding baby care to appear.
New mothers tend to ask themselves many questions, such as: “Will they eat enough?”, “Will they cry because something hurts?”, or “Can I breastfeed my baby?”
These questions, coupled with tiredness and poor sleep, generate an avalanche of feelings that, many times, new moms don’t know how to manage. Thus, many of them end up experiencing sadness during the postpartum period, instead of that supposed happiness.
What happens to a woman’s mind after she gives birth
Postpartum sadness or baby blues is a very common emotional disturbance that affects approximately 80% of mothers. It manifests two to three days after birth and usually lasts between one and two weeks.
High progesterone levels during pregnancy dramatically drop during that time, and this affects certain areas of the brain responsible for mood. In this regard, this manifests as:
- Feelings of discouragement, apathy, and sadness.
- Feeling like crying for no apparent reason.
- Emotional state changes.
- Difficulty falling asleep or excessive need to sleep.
- Mild anxiety and trouble concentrating.
How postpartum depression differs from baby blues
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects 15% of mothers after they give birth and usually requires treatment due to the severity of the symptoms.
Women experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and tiredness that make it difficult for them to do the daily activities related to caring for themselves and others.
Some of the most common symptoms coincide with those of baby blues. However, in the case of depression, the feelings of sadness and anxiety are more extreme. In fact, you can also suffer from the following symptoms:
- Trouble building an emotional bond with your baby.
- Constantly doubting your ability to care for your baby.
- Having serious trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions.
- Losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy.
- Physical aches or discomfort, such as headaches, stomach aches, or muscle pain.
- Overeating or eating too little.
- Isolating yourself from your friends and family.
- Thinking about hurting yourself or the baby.
It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression to be able to detect it in time. This is because it can last for months or years and usually leads to sleep and feeding problems in the baby, in addition to behavior problems as they grow.
Psychological care for new moms
- Set aside time for yourself. Go for a walk with your partner when they get home from work, take a relaxing bath, enjoy your hobbies, and apply the golden rule of the postpartum period: sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Express what you’re feeling. Vent with your partner or with friends who’ve gone through or are going through the same stage.
- Delegate. Set priorities and look for other people who can help you adapt little by little.
- Establish visiting hours. Postpartum visits from family and friends can stress you out. Be assertive and ask them to visit you when it’s most comfortable for us.
- Lower your self-imposed standards. Give yourself some time. Motherhood is a lifelong role that can be relativized. Thus, remember to take things slow.