Did you know that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) affect 1 in 5 women, and can happen even before your baby is born? Moreover, PMADs can affect any man or woman, regardless of race, income, culture, or education. You read that right – even men can experience perinatal or postpartum challenges. In fact, it’s estimated that 10% of men meet diagnostic criteria for a perinatal mood disorder.
The emotional, physical, and hormonal shifts around pregnancy and birth increase stress in a way that can trigger anxiety or depression, especially in women with a history of mental health issues. Social isolation, financial stress, birth trauma, medical complications, sleep deprivation, and breastfeeding challenges can all play a large role in developing a PMAD.
Becoming a new parent is stressful, and some difficulty adjusting to parenthood (aka: “the baby blues”) is to be expected. However, when these symptoms begin to interfere with your everyday life and last more than 2 weeks, something more serious like a PMAD may be happening. Some signs to watch out for include:
- Crying often
- Having trouble sleeping, especially when baby sleeps
- Feeling scared to be around baby
- Becoming irritable or angry
- Feeling out of touch
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in baby
- Intrusive thoughts
- Strange beliefs
- Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
- Feelings of guilt or feeling like a bad mother
The good news is: PMADs are both temporary and treatable. Seeking support from a trained healthcare or mental health professional or reaching out to trusted resources is an act of courage and the first step to getting the help you deserve.
Aside from professional mental health care, enlisting the help of postpartum professionals can play an enormous role in your mental well-being. A trained Postpartum Doula or Newborn Care Specialist can support you both physically and emotionally, as well as care for your baby so that you can get the rest you deserve.
At Swaddled Newborn Care, we understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. Studies show new parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation, decreased breast milk supply, and increased rates of postpartum depression and anxiety. Unfortunately sleeping well is easier said than done when you are caring for a newborn. Some parents lay awake anticipating their babies cry or they may struggle to get their baby to stop crying in the wee hours of the night.
Even when baby is sleeping, racing thoughts and to-do-lists may keep you up at night.
Among the many risk factors for PMADs, sleep deprivation is one of the most straightforward to treat. When you are suffering from PMADs, sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Always remember: You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.
Erika Steinbauer is the co-founder of Swaddled Newborn Care Concierge, a newborn care agency serving the Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Ozaukee areas. Through her work as a Newborn Care Specialist over the past 10 years, she has supported families experiencing PMADs and sleep deprivation. Erika is also a Psychiatric Physician Assistant and has a special interest in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
To learn more about enlisting the help of Swaddled Newborn Care, visit their website at www.swaddlednewborncare.com.