Here are some descriptions of what you could expect and where you can find resources in the Washington DC metro area.
- Perinatal Depression. An estimated 11-20% of women experience depression after the birth of their children. It may start any time within the first year after delivery, and can last months. It is different than baby blues in severity and how long it lasts. Some women experience this while pregnant.
- Perinatal Anxiety. More rare than postpartum depression, anxiety complications can present in a number of ways. You could experience panic attacks, PTSD, or even OCD. It typically starts in the first few weeks after birth and can last months, without treatment. It can also occur when you are pregnant.
Postpartum Progress have a comprehensive list of symptoms that you may find helpful.
A personal note from our doula Betsy: “With my first child, I experienced debilitating postnatal anxiety. I couldn’t be around my newborn and relied on round-the-clock care from my parents and partner. Fortunately I was able to get the medical help I needed and fully recovered quickly. There are two things I want other women going through this to know.
First, the most surprising part of my experience was that my rational mind understood what was happening, but that had no effect on what my body was doing. It was really, really scary to feel so out of control of my emotional and physical responses. Understanding what could happen doesn’t prevent or reduce it, but it can help you find appropriate help.
Second, talking about my experience in the months and even years since has dramatically helped my healing. At first I was ashamed of my anxiety, but it was transformative to speak with women who had similar issues and to talk honestly and openly about what we went through.”
MCPAP have a great summary table to identify what you or your loved one are feeling, the risk factors, duration, and treatments.
For more detail on the difference between “normal” Baby Blues and mood changes that could require more support, see Postpartum Progress' site.
To evaluate a mother’s risk for postnatal depression, many clinicians use the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.
Although these feelings may be common, you do not need to grin and bear it. There are people who are available and want to help you, including many of us who have also experienced what you feel.
- Postpartum Support DC: https://postpartumdc.org
- Postpartum Support VA: http://www.postpartumva.org
- Postpartum Support MD: http://postpartummd.org
- PACE: http://www.pacemoms.org
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Metropolitan Doulas -- we can help identify resources that can help you, as well as provide support in the home for you and your family.