Postpartum Support

Perinatal Mood Disorders 
Perinatal Mood Disorders (occurring during pregnancy and up to a year after childbirth) are much more common than you might think. Nearly 30 percent of Alaskan moms suffer from symptoms of postpartum depression. Almost all moms experience some moodiness postpartum — this is frequently called "baby blues." However, when symptoms last for more than two weeks or are causing you distress, you should talk to your doctor. Here are some of the disorders that can affect new moms:  
  • Postpartum depression
  • Postpartum anxiety
  • Postpartum panic disorder
  • Postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Postpartum post traumatic stress disorder
  • Postpartum psychosis
Common symptoms 
  • Frequent sadness or crying
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep when the baby sleeps)
  • Anger or irritability
  • Emotional numbness, concern about ability to bond with the baby
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Confusion
  • Repetitive thoughts, images or fears
  • Obsessive rituals
  • Difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness
  • Feelings of inadequacy or guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or escape fantasies
  • Anxiety or panic
If you are in crisis, call the Crisis Line at 907-563-3200 or go to your nearest emergency room. 

Postpartum support for mom
A mom-to-mom postpartum support group with monthly guest speakers is held 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on Mondays at the Providence Maternity Education Center. For more information call 907-212-8474.

 Causes of Perinatal Mood Disorders
There are a number of reasons why you may get depressed or anxious during pregnancy, after pregnancy loss, or after your baby is born. Your body, mind and spirit will all undergo significant changes. A new baby will affect your sleeping schedule and your lifestyle. In addition, there are many expectations that you might have for yourself, your baby and your partner, and expectations that others might have for you. You may need some time to figure out ways to cope with these changes. You may experience mood swings.

 Risk Factors
Some women have family members with a history of depression or anxiety. Some women have had depression or anxiety in their own past and for some women, the cause is unclear. For every woman who suffers from a perinatal mood disorder, the causes are as unique as she is. We do know that some of the following situations may make you more vulnerable: 
  • Personal or family history of mental illness or emotional instability
  • Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
  • Poor social support system
  • Marital or relationship difficulties
  • Premenstrual mood changes or sensitivity to hormonal contraceptives
  • Stressful life events
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Unrealistically high expectations about childbirth and parenting
  • Special needs or fussy baby
  • Teen mom
  • Abrupt weaning
10 facts about Postpartum Mood Disorders
  1. You will get better with help. You are not alone.
  2. You need regular breaks from the baby.
  3. There is no quick fix. There is no one thing that will promptly make it go away.
  4. You will feel better if you reach out to caring people and express your feelings.
  5. You will feel worse if you assess your life when you are having a bad day.
  6. Cures are individual and need to work for you.
  7. You will feel better if you get outside often.
  8. Healing from postpartum depression or anxiety goes in cycles — you may feel worse before you feel better.
  9. Having a postpartum mood disorder does not mean you are a bad mother.
  10. Your baby loves you and needs you; you are his or her perfect mom. Source: Wendy Davis, Ph.D. 
It is important to get help when you need it. The risks of untreated mood disorders can be severe. There are many different treatment options and your health care provider can work with you to find the one that works best for you and your family.
Some effective treatments include: 
  • Support groups
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Herbal remedies
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Acupuncture
  • Light therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Respite/rest; regular breaks from childcare
10 Coping Tips
  1. Set realistic expectations. For example, get dressed, eat lunch.
  2. Ask for help and take it whenever it’s offered. Make a list of things people can do to help and post it on the fridge or even on the front door!
  3. Establish boundaries. Let grandparents and other visitors know when you need to be alone with your baby and when you’ve gotten enough advice.
  4. Touch, look at and talk to your baby.
  5. Get outside as often as you can.
  6. Drink lots of water and nibble on nutritious snacks throughout the day.
  7. Breathe — close your eyes and take long full breaths until you feel better.
  8. Realize that you are not alone — reach out to other moms, to your support people and to your health care providers. Talk about how you’re feeling.
  9. Take breaks from tasks — especially when someone else is in charge. Relax.
  10. Look for opportunities to be creative and have fun! Nourish your own inner child.
For more information on Postpartum Mood Disorders and resources available for you, call 907-212-5886 or send an email to our Post Partum department.