Having a baby can be very overwhelming at times, no matter how much you’ve looked forward to it or how much you love your child. It is important for moms to know that no matter the struggle you are experiencing during postpartum, you are not alone. SSM Health provides services for continued postpartum care that can be tailored to each woman’s individual needs.
Dr. Dawn Kalin is an OB physician and shared with us additional information on postpartum wellness.
Can you share a little about what you do and who you work with?
My name is Dawn Kalin, DO. I am an obstetrician/gynecologist at SSM health. I work at both SSM Health Dean Medical Group – N. Highpoint Road and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Madison. I work with a wonderful group of ob/gyns, maternal fetal medicine specialists, midwives, and pelvic health specialists.
Can you elaborate more on what postpartum wellness is?
The fourth trimester is often the forgotten trimester. The first 3 months postpartum are when moms are the most vulnerable. Hormone levels plummet, and sleep deprivation is real. Pair that with the general stress of adding a new family member to the household, and there you have a perfect recipe for postpartum mood disorders. Postpartum wellness is not only taking care of your body as you recover from the trauma of birthing a child, but of your mind as you adjust your life to new normal.
What are signs that moms may have postpartum blues, depression or anxiety?
Postpartum blues is common and usually starts a few days after delivery. Moms may feel irritable, sad, cry often and for no apparent reason, have trouble sleeping, and question whether or not they are properly caring for their baby. These symptoms usually self-resolve within days to just a few weeks without treatment.
Postpartum depression is when these symptoms become intense, begin to interfere with your daily life, and do not self-resolve. Postpartum depression can last for up to a year after baby is born.
Postpartum anxiety is not often talked about, but is very real. Symptoms of postpartum anxiety might include:
- Constant worry
- Inability to sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to sit still
- Racing thoughts
- Feeling of dread
- Physical symptoms such as: lightheadedness, dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea.
Postpartum anxiety can also come in the form of panic attacks or obsessions and compulsions such as inability to leave the house, or inability to leave the baby. All of these symptoms typically do not self-resolve.
When a mom seeks help for postpartum depression or anxiety, what should she expect when she reaches out and what is the treatment like?
An important thing to know is that postpartum anxiety and depression are incredibly common. Seek help before your postpartum visit. Please call the clinic, you will not be judged, but met with compassion and empathy. You will likely be offered a video visit for your convenience, as we know how hard it is to leave the house with a newborn.
Treatment can be two-fold; medication and/or therapy. Of course, you can breastfeed while on most medications that are prescribed for perinatal depression and anxiety.
There are online and in person support groups. Counselors that will meet virtually and in person for ease of care. There are even mental health professionals that specialize in perinatal mental health. We can connect you with all of these resources.
What can moms do to maintain their mental health?
Get outside! Walk, exercise, stretch. Try a happy light during the winter, studies show these can significantly improve mood and prevent seasonal depression. Drink water and try to sleep. We know that lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression significantly. So, ask your partner or a support person to watch the baby while you nap. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about preexisting anxiety and depression early in your pregnancy and make a plan for postpartum. Enlist family and friends to help. Most importantly, you are not alone.
Are there any other resources or links you recommend?
Dial 988 to reach the Dane county crisis line.
Two online resources are:
SSM also has a “fourth trimester group” that meets weekly. They are an excellent resource to meet with moms that are going through the exact same thing as you! You can check them out HERE.
Thank you so much Dr. Dawn Kalin and SSM health for this critical information. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article please reach out to your doctor or the resources provided.