|February 13, 2009||Peter Phelps
Babies cry ... are you crying too?
For most women, childbirth is one of the most important events in their lives. But being pregnant, delivering a baby, and then caring for it, can often times be more than a person anticipated. Many physical and emotional changes occur including perinatal mood disorder, which is the period of pregnancy through the first year after delivery.
"Most women will experience some mood changes associated with childbirth," says Dr. Eric Ebner, vice chair of the department of OB/GYN at Battle Creek Health System. "The symptoms range from common 'baby blues,' which will usually last less than two weeks, to depression. Age of the new mother and level of education play a major role in the severity of this condition."
It is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of women develop this mood disorder causing significant personal distress that can negatively affect their daily functioning as well as their personal relationships. The 'baby blues' are characterized by crying spells, irritability, feelings of inadequacy, or being overwhelmed. These may be accompanied by guilt that the mother is unhappy at what should be a happy time.
"Feeling like 'I'm not a good mother' or a sense of failure is very common," says Dr. Ebner. "Things that used to be pleasurable are no longer, making the new mom feel out of control."
Physical symptoms including loss of appetite, panic attacks, chest pain, and hyperventilation may also be present. The lack of desire to do her usual activities is common. Fortunately health care providers are increasingly addressing these perinatal mood disorders. Many physicians and hospitals now screen for postpartum depression using tools such as counseling, group sessions with other mothers, and medical treatments. Battle Creek Health System was the first hospital to offer an inpatient perinatal mood disorder-screening program in Calhoun County.
If you have, are, or know of someone who is experiencing a difficult time adjusting to 'life after baby,' there is a support group for women who are dealing with postpartum mood disorders that meet twice each month.
This educational opportunity is presented by the Family Birth Center at Battle Creek Health System, Behavioral Health Resources, Calhoun County Perinatal Mood Disorder Coalition, and the Maternal Infant Child Coalition.
For more information about the times and locations of these meetings, please call (269) 964-5868.