When scrolling through your social media feed, it’s likely you’ll come across at least one image of a smiling mom and baby. Many women see these types of images and assume all women glow and feel great during pregnancy and after giving birth. But the reality is a lot different.
Up to one in five women – and one in ten men – are affected by Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) – the most common complication of childbirth. PMAD can develop anytime during pregnancy or the first year after giving birth and encompasses a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although there’s no single thing that causes PMAD, there are several factors that can contribute:
- Medical complications during pregnancy or delivery
- Relationship problems, such as an unbalanced partnership
- Discontinuing mood medication prior to pregnancy if you have depression or anxiety
- Socioeconomic stressors, such as job or insurance loss
- A past traumatic birth experience
- Infertility issues
- Difficulty breastfeeding
Recognizing symptoms is one of the first steps toward getting better. Everyone is different, but the most common symptoms include:
- Tearfulness and crying
- Feeling sad and disconnected
- Rage and irritability
- Anxiety and/or having panic attacks
- Trouble concentrating and remembering
- Reduced appetite
- Upsetting thoughts involving the baby
If you feel something’s not right, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your obstetrician, primary care physician or a behavior health specialist. If you have a history of a mood disorder or anxiety, your doctor will work with you to re-introduce medication during or after pregnancy. If you haven’t taken behavioral health medications in the past, effective treatment often includes individual or couple’s counseling, as well as peer support, such as getting involved in a group with other new or expectant moms.
Edward-Elmhurst Health offers free support groups as well as social and educational groups for expecting and new moms. These groups are a great opportunity to get out, meet other moms and connect with labor and delivery specialists.
We also have lactation consultants who are trained to identify PMAD signs and symptoms and can link new mothers to our behavioral health specialists. It’s our priority to help new moms and moms-to-be to get the care they need.