Newborns

Postpartum Mood Disorders: What New Moms Need to Know

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Your baby has finally arrived! Your family and friends are elated and yet you don’t have any sense of joy and delight because all you feel is anxiety and fear. It is important to understand that this is perfectly normal and that every new mom goes through the same process. Throughout your pregnancy, there were fluctuations in your hormone levels but now that your baby is born, they are starting to return to normal. The impact of these hormonal changes varies from one woman to the next and so it is important to understand the different types of postpartum mood disorders. 

Types of Postpartum Mood Disorders 

No matter what precautions you take, you cannot avoid postpartum stress and mood changes. However, it is important understand the differences between normal mood changes and more severe mood disorders. 

Postpartum Blues 

Postpartum blues is the most common type of postpartum mood disorders. According to experts, up to 80% of all new mothers get the “baby blues”. Postpartum blues generally set in when your baby is 2-3 days old and lasts for 1-2 weeks. Most new moms with the baby blues tend to feel sad and weepy and may break down in tears for no apparent reason. Postpartum blues are also associated with mood changes which means that you are likely to go from weepy to irritable and impatient in the blink of an eye. You are likely to feel restless and have problems sleeping which in turn causes fatigue and lethargy. Some new mums with the baby blues experience a loss of appetite and so they ignore their food intake. You may also experience a lack of mental focus and have trouble making decisions. You need to keep reminding yourself that what you are feeling and thinking is perfectly normal and that you just need a little time to rest and recover. 

Postpartum Depression 

Postpartum depression is a more serious postpartum mood disorder as it is linked to negative short-term and long-term effects on child development. Studies show that postpartum depression is not as common as the baby blues and affects up to 15% of mothers. Postpartum depression generally occurs about 1-3 weeks after childbirth but it can take longer – in rare cases, it can take up to 1 year! Postpartum depression is triggered by the sudden and drastic decrease of estrogen and progesterone after childbirth. New moms might think that their baby blues are simply lasting longer than usual, when in fact, they are suffering from postpartum depression. Women who have postpartum depression experience a change in their overall mood. Their overall mood is low and they have frequent crying spells. If you are constantly consumed by feelings of guilt and unhappy as a mum, you might have postpartum depression. Women with a history of depression are more likely to develop postpartum depression. 

Postpartum Psychosis 

Postpartum psychosis is the least common type of postpartum mood disorder but it is also the worst. According to researchers, postpartum psychosis affects less than 0.3% of all new mothers. Postpartum psychosis begins within 4 weeks of childbirth and generally requires hospitalization. Women with postpartum psychosis often exhibit extreme paranoia and suspicion. They suffer from hallucinations and delusions and may even have difficulty communicating. New moms with postpartum psychosis are often unable to sleep and display common signs of hyperactivity. A woman experiencing postpartum psychosis faces a break from reality where her delusions make perfect sense to her. Early diagnosis and treatment is imperative as the condition is linked to an increased risk of suicide and infanticide. 

Treatment options for Postpartum Mood Disorders 

The treatment for postpartum mood disorders varies according to the type of disorder and the severity. Most cases of postpartum blues do not require any treatment but new moms can benefit from counseling and support groups. Postpartum depression generally requires a short course of antidepressants along with cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. Postpartum psychosis requires stronger medication – antipsychotics to reduce hallucinations and mood stabilizers to reduce manic episodes. There is no surefire way to prevent postpartum mood disorders but getting adequate sleep and plenty of social support does help to reduce the risk.  

Most new moms don’t realize that they are suffering from a postpartum mood disorder and instead it is brought to their attention by those closest to them. Experienced doulas can often make out when a new mom’s anxiety symptoms are severe and may require medical attention - she can also help you connect to a therapist or other treatment resources in your area. A Postpartum Doula can also help new moms adjust to their role as a mother and help to provide constant emotional support. 

To find a therapist in the OC area that specializes in perinatal or postpartum mood disorders, please visit our resource page. For more help you can also contact Postpartum Support International’s hotline at 1-800-944-4773

To get connected with Postpartum Doula in Orange County, please reach out!


Author Bio: Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle,as she has battled and overcome chronic pain. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.

Top 8 Ways for a Dad to Bond with a New Baby!

As a dad, oftentimes the reality of having a baby doesn't set in until they're born. Even then, bonding can take a while and this new role of fatherhood can feel oh, so intimidating. We get it and it's completely normal. You didn't carry, birth or nurse your baby and it all feels abstract. 

One of my favorite parts of being a Postpartum Doula is to help dads grow closer to their babies and watch their confidence soar.

Check out Doulas of OC’s top 8 tips for dads to bond with their newborn! 

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  1. Reading Aloud 

    Pick your favorite books, hold your baby in your lap and read, read, read. Not only does reading to your baby help encourage early language development, but she will love listening to the unique tone and natural rhythm of your voice. If you have a hard time with basic board books, try pulling out your favorite PG chapter book to read aloud. Baby doesn’t care too much about the content, they care about connection

  2. Bath Time Bubbles 

    Bath time is a perfect way to introduce a simple routine that can be just for you and baby. Whether it’s every night before bed or every other day, you will gain confidence as you care for your little one and ensure a special time carved out to enjoy being a dad.  

  3. Infant Massage 

    Physical touch is so very important for brain development and emotional security. By introducing a basic massage routine to your week, the bonding hormone, oxytocin will be flowing in both baby and dad. The release of this hormone creates a strong attachment and actually increases your desire to be present and close with those you love.  

  4. Singing During Diaper Changes 

    Diaper changes. It’s a mundane occurrence that happens way too often, right? A baby needs 8-12+ diaper changes a day, which leaves SO many opportunities to connect with your baby while they’re usually awake. I like to encourage fathers to utilize this time making eye contact with their baby and sing a song. Before you know it, it will be the favorite part of your day. 

  5. Tummy Time Giggles 

    Play is the foundation for early childhood. Get down on the floor and play with your baby. Make silly faces, shake a rattle, tickle their toes and imitate their sounds. You have many more years of play ahead of you, so start now by building a strong attachment rooted in joy.

  6. Shirtless Bottle Feeds 

    We promise this idea wasn’t just started by new moms waiting for their 6 week clearance. Multiple studies show that holding your baby skin-to-skin while feeding them, increases bonding, regulates baby’s temperature and encourages baby to be accustomed to your scent. Simply get your little one in a diaper only, cradle them upright in the nook of your arm, make eye contact and feed your baby.

  7. Master the Swaddle  

    There’s nothing like watching a new dad beam with pride as he calms his crying baby. From the football hold to bouncing on the yoga ball, to swaddling and shhhhhhhhing; a postpartum doula will help you practice each and every soothing technique for your fussy newborn!

  8. All the Cuddles 

    The desire to be held spans across every age and starts from the moment you’re born. Babies are often go from rocker, to swing, to crib to tummy time and crave to touch from those they love.  You don’t need to hold your baby all day long to create a strong bond. Plop your baby in your arms while catching up on the morning paper or snuggle during the basketball game. As a doula, I teach all dads how to use a baby-carrier to be able to get some baby snuggles in while still having both hands free! 

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We hope this list gave you some ideas to start building connecting with your newborn baby in your every day routine!

What Does a Postpartum Doula Do? - Part Three

Today we’ll share our final thoughts on the role of our Postpartum Doula. This is Part 3 of a three-part series on the ABCs of Postpartum Doulas. If you haven’t read through the whole previous parts you can check them out here: Part 1 and Part 2

What Does a Postpartum Doula Do? - Part Two

Last week we shared Part 1 of our three-part series on the role of a Postpartum Doula. And today we are continuing on with the ABCs of a Postpartum Doula with Part 2!


J- Judgment Free Zone - There are so many different ways to parent and the needs of every family vary. Your doula will never question your choices and will always offer her support and expertise without judgment. We believe having a judgment-free doula is imperative. Read more about why here.

K- Kangaroo Care - Bonding is crucial for your baby and for you. Your doula is there to facilitate and encouraging different avenues of bonding. From skin-to-skin, to baby wearing, to bath time - there are lots of ways to enjoy your time with your baby. Bonus - it helps balance your mood and babies too!

L- Listening - To be frank, there are some postpartum visits where we just sit on the couch with some tea and listen. Pregnancy, birth, & postpartum are transformative moments in a person’s life and there is a lot of change in a very short period of time. Sometimes you’ll just need to talk things out and you will have a compassionate listener there to do so.

M- Mental Health - Postpartum Depression is taboo. It’s a scary thing for people to think about. It’s also only one piece of the wide spectrum of postpartum mood disorders. Not only does your doula know what signs to look for she can bring them to your attention and get you connected to resources and treatment. Postpartum mood disorders do not discriminate. No one is immune. And support is crucial. There is no shame in getting help and your doula will be there for you throughout the process. Additionally, some studies show that having postpartum help can reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders.

N- Normalizing - Babies do random things. They make weird noises and breathe differently than we do, especially the first few days of life. If you’re new to this baby thing seeing some of these random things may cause panic or fear. But your doula has seen it all and will be there to remind you that it’s normal and nothing to be concerned about. If she cannot reassure you that it’s normal she will encourage you to reach out to your pediatrician.

O- Organization - Diapers, creams, wipes, onesies, socks, swaddles, clothes from 0 months to 3 years… so many baby things all in one small nursery! As an expert in baby care and pros at finding nursery solutions she can help organize things so they make sense and are quick to find in the dark at 2am. During her regular visits she’ll make sure that all of your supplies are stocked and alert you if anything needs to be purchased. She can even do a Target run for you!

P- Privacy - Our doulas do not and will not share personal information about any of our clients. Ever. Read more about our Privacy Pledge here.

Q- Quiet - Babies cry. Sometimes more than you might expect. Crying is a babies way of communicating but deciphering WHAT your baby is trying to communicate can be tricky at first. During your postpartum visits your doula can offer you some respite from the crying. She can take over care of your baby and send you to your bedroom with earplugs so you can sleep without interruption knowing full well that your baby is being beautifully cared for.

R- Reality - She won’t sugar coat stuff for you (unless that’s what you really need). She’ll tell you the truth about the realities of parenting and help you finds solutions for things that are challenging. And she’ll do it with grace and humor. Your doula will keep it real because we believe that you deserve to know the truth about parenting so you’re not blindsided by the unknown.

We’ll finish our series with Part 3 next week - stay tuned!

Scientific Reasons to Sling Your Baby {Guest Post}

It’s no secret that we are all huge fans of babywearing here at Doulas of OC. There’s nothing sweeter than having an adorable baby snuggled into your chest and babywearing makes that possible and easy for parents to achieve day in and day out! Today we are joined by Neve Spicer at We The Parents, a parenting & lifestyle blog. Neve shares our love for babywearing and is providing more information on the scientific side behind this ancient parenting practice.