Childbirth can give rise to a wide range of emotions for moms— from happiness and excitement to fear and even anxiety. These emotions plus the unexpected body changes and the exhaustion and sleeplessness altogether can lead to what new moms may suffer from: postpartum depression.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression
According to Mayo Clinic, new moms who are diagnosed with this condition may exhibit one or more of the following:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive or sudden crying
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you're not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
How the pandemic intensifies new mothers’ woes
This pandemic intensifies the stress of new mothers, causing them to feel more anxious and alone. The fact that they won’t be able to have or there's difficulty in getting postpartum checkups and appointments, attend a support group for new moms, go out to get fresh air, or even just to meet friends for a long overdue catch up - may make the depression worse. This feeling of isolation and loneliness and difficulty in getting help from outside greatly impacts their mental health.
Another thing that may magnify the stress from new motherhood is being anxious about the baby’s health as they cannot have check-ups until the pandemic is over unless there is an urgent need. Mothers may feel perturbed that their babies are not healthy enough or that they are not being taken care of the way they should, especially in the early stages of their lives. Mothers just cannot get that assurance from themselves and would need others to confirm that they are doing fine.
Job and financial security can be another source of their depression. As everyone is advised to stay at home until the pandemic has ceased, many have been affected as they lose their jobs. Not being able to work due to the shelter-in-place orders results in not being paid or worse, being laid off—thus, the financial insecurity. This makes most moms tearful and fearful of their families’ future and well-being.
While the pandemic may trigger all these feelings of uncertainty and panic, it is still best to meet with your healthcare provider and get screened for postpartum mood concerns. If this isn’t feasible, there are some hospitals offering teletherapy and online support groups.
Though there seems to be no end in sight for this global health crisis, this will surely pass. We urge families and friends to stay connected with new moms and support them as they may have a bigger battle than all of us during this pandemic.
Some online resources for mothers who may possibly be suffering from anxiety and depression are:
Postpartum Support International: A directory of therapists and online support groups for families and new mothers.
Covid Coach: A free app with self-care and meditation exercises for new moms.
The Lily: The pandemic may be intensifying postpartum depression. But there are resources to help.