Having a baby can be a wonderful, magical, transformative journey that most women are glad they took. Despite the morning sickness, the uncomfortable final trimester, followed by that aptly named thing called … labour, pregnancy and birth are a badge of honour we all wear proudly, whether we delivered vaginally or had a C-section (aka belly birth), bringing forth new life into this world is no Sunday walk in the park. But let’s face it, even though our bodies were designed to carry and deliver a baby, and our ancestors and mammals alike have been doing it since the dawn of time, pregnancy and birth takes its toll on our bodies, our minds and most definitely our souls.
From lower back pain, sciatic nerve pain, sacral iliac discomfort, swollen ankles, incontinence, hernias, carpal tunnel, heartburn, indigestion, the list really is endless. We endure it all to create life. But once our little bundle of joy has arrived, the journey isn’t over, not by a long shot. Those hormones in our bodies are now working double-time to
rebalance themselves and feed that baby.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of chemical, emotional, physical and behavioural changes associated with having a baby. According to the DSM-5, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, PPD is a form of major depression that has its onset within four weeks after delivery, however, it has been known to develop later for some women.
Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to what happens normally following childbirth. They include difficulty sleeping, appetite changes, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, and frequent mood changes. However, these are also accompanied by other symptoms of major
depression, which are not normal after childbirth, and may include depressed mood; loss of pleasure; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness; thoughts of death or suicide or thoughts or hurting someone else.
What Are the Risk Factors for Getting Postpartum Depression?
A number of factors can increase the risk of postpartum depression, including:
a history of depression prior to becoming pregnant, or during pregnancy age at time of pregnancy -- the younger you are, the higher the risk ambivalence about the pregnancy children -- the more you have, the more likely you are to be depressed in a subsequent pregnancy having a history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)limited social support living alone marital conflict.
When Should a new Mom Seek Professional Treatment?
Untreated postpartum depression can be dangerous for new moms and their children. A new mom should seek professional help when: symptoms persist beyond two weeks. she is unable to function normally. she can't cope with everyday situations.she has thoughts of harming herself or her baby.she is feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day.
A study conducted out of the University of Michigan, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that urinary incontinence and pelvic floor pain during and after pregnancy were independently associated with a positive postpartum depression screen in women referred to a speciality perineal clinic. Therefore, consideration should be given to depression screening in women presenting with perinatal urinary incontinence and persistent postpartum pelvic floor pain, as these women may be at increased risk of developing postpartum depression (Swenson et al., 2017).
And why wouldn’t that make sense? Pelvic floor pain is just one more HUGE thing to have to cope with as you navigate the new world of being a mother or for others a mother to more than just one, or two or three children. But it’s a slippery slope and pain during intercourse, incontinence after childbirth doesn’t have to be something you’re forced to have to deal with. There is a solution. There is help.
So, what does this all mean?
Take care of YOU. Because in order to be the best mom, the best partner, the best YOU you can be, you need to take care of yourself. Self-care is real, it needs to happen more, and we all need to embrace and DEMAND it. And sometimes that means asking for help. Getting the support you need in order to survive the new, exciting and inevitably exhausting world of being a parent to a needy newborn.
Please, see a counsellor if you think you might have postpartum depression, speak with your doctor, contact Core Connection Physiotherapy to see if pelvic floor therapy is right for you. We are all here to help and support new and expectant mothers because mothers are our core connection to life.
1.) Swenson, Carolyn & DePorre, Julia & Haefner, Jessica & Berger, Mitchell. (2017). Postpartum Depression Screening and Pelvic Floor Symptoms Among Women Referred to a Specialty Postpartum Perineal Clinic. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 218. 10.1016/j.ajog.2017.11.604.