Emotional wellness is an essential component to the care that we provide our mothers here at Dignity Health. In addition to the excellent care they receive at the bedside, we screen every new mother for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and work to link those who need them to resources critical to their care needs.
A list of local maternal emotional resources is available here.
In addition to these resources we encourage you to download the Dignity Health My Baby app. My Baby includes important information and links to a tool used to screen for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Six Things Every New Mother and Mother-to-Be Should Know About Maternal Depression
Maternal depression is common.
It is the number one complication of pregnancy. In the United States, 15 to 20 percent of new moms, or about 1 million women each year experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and some studies suggest that number may be even higher. You are not alone!
Maternal depression can affect any woman regardless of age, income, culture, or education.
You might experience some of these symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness
- Mood swings: highs and lows, feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Excessive worry about your baby
- Nervousness, anxiety, or panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Fearing that you can’t take care of your baby
- Feelings of guilt and inadequacy
- Difficulty accepting motherhood
- Irrational thinking
- Seeing or hearing things that are not there
Some of the ways women describe their feelings include:
- I want to cry all the time
- I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster
- I will never feel like myself again
- I don’t think my baby likes me
- Everything feels like an effort
Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy, and up to the child’s ﬁrst year.
Baby blues, a normal adjustment period after birth, usually lasts from two to three weeks. If you have any of the listed symptoms, they have stayed the same or gotten worse, you are feeling unable to cope or developing negative self-talk, and you’re five to six weeks postpartum, then you are no longer experiencing baby blues, and may have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.
You did nothing to cause this.
You are not a weak or bad person. You have a common, treatable illness. Research shows that there are a variety of risk factors that may impact how you are feeling, including your medical history, how your body processes certain hormones, the level of stress you are experiencing, and how much help you have with your baby. What we do know is, this is not your fault.
The sooner you get treatment, the better.
You deserve to be healthy, and your baby needs a healthy mom in order to thrive. Don’t wait to reach out for HELP. It is available. Recent studies show that your baby’s well-being and development are directly tied to your physical and emotional health.
There is help for you.
There comes a time in every woman’s life when she needs help. NOW is the time to reach out to a caring professional who is knowledgeable about perinatal depression who can help you through this time of crisis. He or she can understand the pain you are experiencing and guide you on the road to recovery.
If you think you may be experiencing maternal depression, please contact your primary care provider or Dignity Health’s Perinatal Mental Health Program Coordinator at (805) 440-4058.