postpartum recovery

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.

The Pantry: Postpartum Pasta Salad

I really love cooking for postpartum clients - generally I make light and meals. This way I’m not spending the entire postpartum visit in the kitchen and can still help with breastfeeding, newborn care, and anything else the new parents need. Postpartum nutrition is incredibly important, especially for the first several months. Your body goes through a huge transition after giving birth and nourishing it with healthy, nutritious, and soul-filling foods goes a long way in supporting your postpartum recovery.

Talk to your postpartum doula about your nutritional needs, any allergies/sensitivities and cravings. Ask for her favorite crockpot recipes or snack ideas, I guarantee she’ll have tons to share!

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite postpartum meals: Postpartum Pasta Salad.

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.

Questions to Ask Your Placenta Specialist

So you're on the fence about placenta encapsulation. To help get your questions answered, we've compiled a list of our most common questions about placenta preparation and consumption as well as offered our recommendations on what to look for when hiring a placenta specialist or encapsulator.

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1. What methods of preparation do you offer?

Many placenta specialists not only offer placenta benefits in pill form, but in the form of tinctures and salves, smoothies, as well as keepsakes if desired. Encapsulation is the most popular request and involves placing dried placenta powder in gelatin or vegan capsules. Tinctures offer a longer term use of your placenta in liquid form. Salves include dried placenta powder mixed with the healing properties of beeswax and oil to use for skin conditions for mom & baby. 

The basis of most placenta preparation methods is TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) inspired, which involves steaming and dehydrating the placenta prior to consumption. You can also opt for the raw method which eliminates the steaming and goes straight from rinsing/cleaning the placenta to dehydrating. It is believed by some that steaming discourages bacteria growth, while others believe that steaming destroys nutrients. We recommend researching and speaking with a certified placenta professional to find the best option for you.

2. What are the benefits I can expect?

Our clients attest to the many benefits of using their placenta capsules and tincture to support their body and mind during postpartum recovery. Clients report mood & hormone balancing, help with boosting their milk supply, decrease in the amount of postpartum bleeding they experience, and increased energy. As every body and every person is different, each experience may vary, but these are the most common. 

3. Where did you complete your training and what does your training entail?

In our experience, in-person trainings offer the most comprehensive option available while effectively teaching the highest safety standards. In addition to having a professional training, it is recommended that all placenta specialists or encapsulators are fully certified to uphold blood borne pathogen standards as set forth by OSHA as well as certified Food Handlers. All trainings and certifications should be kept up-to-date to ensure the safest handling and preparation of your placenta. 

4. What are your sanitation and safety protocols?

The safest placenta encapsulation includes up-to-date Bloodborne Pathogens Certification which as we already mentioned.

When it comes to sanitization the only acceptable method is soaking in bleach solution or commercial sanitizer. All other methods are inferior. Equipment should be monitored for normal wear and tear and replaced as needed. Following processing each placenta, your specialist should soak all re-useable equipment in a bleach solution as set forth by OSHA to adequately kill all bacteria and prevent cross contamination. We recommend that all placenta specialists wear personal protective equipment including a mask, plastic apron, gloves, and a hair covering. 

5. How do you ensure that I'm receiving my placenta and not someone elses?

This is the beauty of opting for in-home encapsulation. By transporting your own placenta and witnessing the process in your own home, there will be no doubt. For those that choose to have their placentas processed in their specialists home, rest assured that we only process one placenta at time. Your specialist confirms that your placenta is properly labeled prior to receiving your it from the hospital and keeps everything labeled throughout the entire process. 

6. Do you have a contract?

This is essential for any professional placenta encapsulator. At Doulas of Orange County, our services are always contracted. A contract should state your responsibilities as the client (such as ensuring proper storage at the hospital) as well as the encapsulator’s responsibilities. Reviewing the contract prior to hiring is always an option!

Your placenta and postpartum deserve the best support offered. We encourage you to take the time to discuss relevant policies with placenta encapsulators and asking the hard questions. If you would like our personal recommendations for placenta professionals in the Orange County and Long Beach areas, please reach out to us!