postpartum depression

Postpartum Mood Disorders: What New Moms Need to Know

Depositphotos_68251605_s-2019.jpg

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.

The Myth of Modern Day Motherhood

The Myth of Modern Day Motherhood

Doulas of Orange County has a simple mission; to walk alongside of parents with steadfast support during the most monumental, exhausting, transformative and joyful experience of their lives; welcoming a baby to the world. The fertility journey, the pregnancy, the birth and bringing a newborn home are intense and surreal. 

The books don’t fully prepare you, friends can overwhelm you, media can terrify you and your well meaning family can often judge your choices.

At Doulas of OC we believe that you shouldn’t just survive this time, but that you should thrive in parenthood. 

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!

What Does A Postpartum Doula Do? - Part One

We work with a lot of expecting couples that are embarking on this journey for the first time and they usually have a lot of questions. Answering those questions is one of the best parts of our job, because we love helping educate people and connecting them to resources that they need. Most people these days know what a Birth Doula does or at the very least have heard the term. But more often not there are a lot of misconceptions about Postpartum Doulas. Many people think that a Postpartum Doula is there to help those with postpartum depression. Others might have heard that a Postpartum Doula is similar to a nanny. And while we do work with clients with postpartum depression and some of our Doulas have been nannies in the past, those definitions barely scratch the surface of what we do as Postpartum Doulas.

Motherhood Shouldn't Be An Island

Last night we hosted a viewing of "When the Bough Breaks" a heartbreaking documentary about the realities of postpartum depression & psychosis. We were joined by local OC birth professionals, members of the community, and a number of mental health professionals to not only watch this film, but to discuss what we can do to make postpartum support more acceptable and more accessible. 

It's no secret that there is still tons of stigma surrounding mental health and treatment options in this country, but what struck me most after viewing this film was the overall lack of understanding, education, and resources surrounding perinatal mood disorders. Simply put, our healthcare and societal systems often set women up for failure, leaving them feeling confused and isolated with nowhere to turn. There are no specific standards for screening and care providers see so many patients each day that it's common for those needing help to slip through the cracks.

That's if these women reach out for help in the first place as the fear of being judged often keeps women silently suffering.