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Postpartum Mental Health

Emily Hauser
By Emily Hauser

Delivering a child, called the postpartum state medically, brings many new things. A new person in your life, a new and different body, new emotions, and new challenges. Postpartum can be overwhelming for a person who has given birth; whether one has done it once or many times. Sometimes these changes can bring about positive experiences. But, it can also contribute to baby blues, postpartum anxiety, or postpartum depression (PPD).

Baby blues are less intense than postpartum anxiety or depression. Baby blues may look like sadness, crying, mood swings, and anxiety that do not affect daily functioning. Baby blues last around two weeks and can happen anytime from the immediate initial postpartum or can begin a few weeks after the birthing experience.

Postpartum anxiety and depression can be longer lasting and more extreme. These are symptoms that continue for longer than two weeks, affect your daily functioning, and look like loss of interest in things that use to bring you joy, crying for “no reason,” changes in appetite, suicidal thoughts, difficulty focusing, fear of hurting your baby, sleep difficulties, inability to control or stop worrying, and more. These symptoms are serious and often not discussed enough.

There is an expectation put on new parents to love, enjoy, and embrace these changes with happiness and joy. However, that isn’t the case for every person. Some studies show that nearly 1-in-7 people who have been pregnant are diagnosed with PPD, and those are just the ones we catch. It’s important to acknowledge experiences outside of that joy and know they are valid to feel. These may include:

  • Not feeling connected to your baby
  • Loss of sense of self
  • Increased frustration towards pets
  • Feeling as though no one understands what you’re going through
  • Feeling like no one can take care of your baby but you
  • Anger towards pumping or breastfeeding
  • Revisiting or even avoiding your birth experience, especially if it was traumatic
  • Feeling like you may not be doing enough
  • Intrusive or anxious thoughts
  • Feeling like your body is not your own
  • Thoughts or feelings of regret/unpreparedness


Though these can be common reactions, parents may feel shame from others or even from themselves for experiencing such thoughts or feelings. This shame contributes to being silent about the PPD symptoms during a time when help may be needed the most. If someone you know recently had a child, reach out to them, ask if they’re okay, offer to help with meeting their basic needs, or even just share your story about your own difficulties and validate them. If you are the one who recently had a baby, know that you are not alone in these feelings. Friends, family, and counseling can be a great support as well as working with your care team to develop a plan of action to help you moving forward. Whether that’s a support group, medications, seeing a counselor, or whatever else you may need, you are not alone. We are here for you.

–  Emily Hauser, LMSW provides therapy services at Health West Chubbuck and integrative wellness care at Health West ISU. She earned her master’s degree in social work from Idaho State University.


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