“My son is in the 95th percentile for weight and height!”
“My daughter is two months old and already in 6-9 month onesies!”
“Most kids crawl between 6-9 months? Well my kid is five months old and crawling from one side of the room to the other – how precocious!”
Among the favorite pastimes of American parents is the “Comparison Olympics”, or, in other words, seizing every available opportunity to size up one’s own children against the statistical reports of other children in similar demographic categories. The way to “win” the Comparison Olympics is to prove that one’s own child is ahead of every conceivable measure, veritably leaping over other children’s developmental milestones. It’s a race to the top, after all – isn’t it?
As many parents can attest, the Comparison Olympics is, in reality, a race to the bottom. Mothers especially can attest that the experience of pregnancy and childbirth is different from woman to woman – and so is the experience of getting to know and raising a baby. While there are certainly helpful trends to look out for, competitive comparisons tend to lead to disappointments and compounded fears for new moms and for their babies.
Mothers affected by Postpartum Depression may want to turn to professional in-home care assistance for new mothers that will help them to take better care of themselves and their newborn. Home care professionals can help to support mothers by sharing some responsibilities around the house that would otherwise become too overwhelming to deal with during this adjustment period.
Stages of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression, abbreviated “PPD”, is a relatively common and recognizable condition among new mothers. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 11-20 percent of women who give live birth per year suffer from PPD and PPD-related symptoms. In other words, from among 4 million births per year in the United States alone, about 600,000 of all mothers will receive a postpartum depression diagnosis. The American Psychological Association independently reports figures at about 1 in 7, or about 14 percent.
In summary, it is likely that you or someone you know has or will eventually suffer from postpartum depression. It is a relatively common experience among new mothers – a statistic that may help some feel encouraged in that they are not alone in the midst of their illness. PPD does not discriminate by age, socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, marital status, or number of children. The condition occurs days or, in some cases, months are the arrival of a child and can have lasting effects if left untreated. Symptoms can leave women unable to care for themselves, also limiting the care they may be able to provide for their baby.
PPD is medically diagnosed in stages, and the further the stage, the more aggressive treatment will need to be for the possibility of full recovery. Yet, unlike the Comparison Olympics, no one wants find themselves at the later or extreme edges of the PPD charts.
The first level or stage of PPD is known colloquially as the “baby blues.” This is the most common and mild experience of PPD on the spectrum of possibilities. New mothers with the baby blues may experience significant mood swings, lose appetite, and find their sleep patterns erratic. Of course, it’s helpful to recognize that a woman’s postpartum body is recovering from substantial physical trauma and transition, all while she’s managing care for a newborn, whose own sleep and eating schedule is new and erratic! The baby blues are common and often last for the first week after a woman is delivered. In fact, many medical professionals consider the baby blues a normal part of the postpartum experience.
The second level of PPD is, in part, seeing an extension of the baby blues well beyond the typical week. Exhaustion, emotional unpredictability, perceiving a lack of connection or ability to even care for the baby, and ongoing anxiety all result in paralysis of a new mom to effectively care for her child or herself. This is diagnosable PPD in which a health care team may help with talk therapy and pharmaceutical assistance (medicine). When treated, a full recovery is expected.
However, there is a third level of postpartum depression, which is PPD at its most severe. This is called postpartum psychosis and develops within six weeks after delivery. Postpartum psychosis is marked by disorientation, delusions, paranoia, and fear of or actual harm of the self or baby. By comparison, no one aims to suffer in this way – certainly not a new mother.
When faced with level 3 PPD, or postpartum psychosis, a woman needs immediate medical attention. A licensed medical doctor can assist with diagnosis, medication, and other treatment and therapy options to help a new mom back to health. When managing level 3 PPD, a new mother needs support from her family and other people close to her. Whether it is her family, friends, or other hired assistants, a woman suffering from postpartum psychosis needs assistance in caring for her baby, herself, and her environment. It is not a time for her to be left alone with her child, managing the new patterns of motherhood, the changes in her body, and demands of her home life. PPD is an illness like any other and requires medical attention for treatment. Full recovery is possible with the right kind of support and compassionate care.
Contact Caring Hands Matter to See How We Can Help!
Life with a newborn is as challenging as it is rewarding. Postpartum depression makes these challenges a lot more difficult to manage, but new mothers should remember that support is available for when they need it.
Our compassionate and professional caregivers are ready to help mothers take care of responsibilities at home so they can have the time necessary to care for themselves and their newborn. For more information about how our new mom assistance services can help, contact Caring Hands Matter online or by call us directly today.