“Maternal mental health complications most often begin during pregnancy,” says Allyson Browning, social worker in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Intermountain Medical Center https://intermountainhealthcare.org/locations/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:
- 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
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider today or call 1-800-944-4773.
The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable. Here are some quick tips for prevention and getting well:
Sleep: Aim for a 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: Fish oils can prevent and treat symptoms. Ask your doctor for details.
Walk: Even 10 to 20 minutes a day can help.
Baby Breaks: An hour a day of time for yourself is recommended.
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.
Documentary on Postpartum Depression
A film presentation on maternal-related mental illnesses and what you can do about them is Friday May 6, at 6 p.m. in Intermountain Medical Center’s education center (building 6). A screening of the documentary film “Dark Side of the Full Moon” will start at 6 p.m., then a panel discussion will run from 7:15 p.m. to 8 p.m.. The panel will include a mental health therapist, pediatrician, midwife, and a survivor mom with personal experience. A local family with five children who recently lost their mother/wife to maternal mental illness will speak briefly about their experience before the film.
The event is free, and the public and care providers are invited. Nursing babies in arms are welcome (although please note that the film is intense and is best suited for adults). It’s sponsored by the Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative and co-sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare. If you have questions or want more information, contact Amy-Rose White at 541-337-4960 or click www.utahmmhc.com.
“It’s so important for anyone affected by maternal mental health complications to attend this event — and that's really all of us,” said Browning.
For a sneak peek of the film, visit: