Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Postpartum depression is the number one complication of childbirth in Utah—and it affects at least 13 percent of Utah moms for up to the first two years after a baby’s birth.
“Maternal mental health complications most often begin during pregnancy,” says Allyson Browning, social worker in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Intermountain Medical Center. “Anxiety, irritability, agitation, insomnia, anger, and constant worry are often more common symptoms than sadness and depression during the postpartum period.”
Women who experience a miscarriage or infant loss or who deal with infertility, adoption, or abortion are at risk for the same symptoms as pregnant and postpartum women.
Signs and symptoms
Your emotional health during this time can affect your pregnancy, your long-term well-being and the health of your baby. Common symptoms that can be part of pregnancy-related mood and anxiety disorders include the following:
- Anxiety or racing thoughts
- Constant worry about your baby’s safety
- Difficulty falling asleep or getting back to sleep
- Irritability, anger, or rage
- Tearfulness, sadness, or feeling worthless
- Intrusive images of harm coming to your baby
- Scary thoughts you’re afraid to share
- Constantly feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty coping
- Thoughts of harming yourself or feeling your baby and family may be better off without you
The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable. Here are some quick tips for prevention and getting well:
Sleep: Aim for four to six hours of uninterrupted sleep at least three nights a week. When possible, have a family member help with the baby’s first feeding of the night while you sleep.
Nutrition: Ask your provider about your vitamin D level, take a high-quality prenatal vitamin, and eat protein and fat as part of every snack and meal.
Omega-3s: Incorporate fish oils into your diet, as they can prevent and treat symptoms of postpartum depression. Ask your doctor for details.
Walk: Go for a walk. Even 10 to 20 minutes a day can help.
Baby breaks: Take at least an hour a day of time for yourself.
Adult time: Join an online group, reach out to a friend every day, and journal, even when you’re not feeling well. Expand your support system.
Liquids: Drink two large pitchers of water daily.
Laughter: Make time for silliness and joy each day through a funny movie or TV show, time with friends, etc. If laughing feels impossible, it’s time to seek more support.