KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 4th trimester: It’s a term being used these days to describe the postpartum period focusing on women, the new mom and the emotional and physical changes they’re facing.
The goal is to normalize the experiences women face, get the word out and hopefully help women who are going through it right now or will be soon.
The series doesn’t talk about getting your “pre-baby” body back as it relates to weight loss but rather focuses on postpartum depression.
It’s estimated one in seven women experience postpartum depression, but numbers vary state to state, so how do you spot the signs?
“I cried nonstop, which I’m a natural crier, and so I thought, ‘This must just be what my life is going to be like,’” Alexandria Raine said.
Raine didn’t realize she had postpartum depression after giving birth to her first child right away, even though she says people were showing concern for her. She didn’t really know what to expect.
“I didn’t feel like myself, but I didn’t know why. I just thought postpartum depression was wanting to kill me or my baby, and I didn’t feel those things, luckily, and so I just thought that I was fine, that I’d just have to figure it out,” Raine said.
Dr. Sarah Getch from Kansas City University said there’s a lot of confusion between the baby blues and postpartum depression for new moms.
“When we get into a period longer than two weeks, so baby blues should last about two weeks, if we see it lasting longer than that, we need to start to pay attention, if we see our symptoms are becoming more intense, we also need to pay attention,” Dr. Getch said.
Postpartum depression can creep up months after a woman gives birth, even up to a year after birth. Occasionally she says it can coincide with a woman weaning her child from breastfeeding.
A woman can also have an onset of depression during pregnancy.
Dr. Amanda Healy is an OBGYN with AdventHealth, and she encourages her patients to seek treatment if they feel like they can’t take care of themselves of their baby, and she also wants patients who are prone to depression or anxiety to be extra cautious.
“If somebody knows they have risk factors for postpartum depression, like has dealt with depression in the past, or already feeling a little down during pregnancy, then we encourage them to make a two to three week postpartum visit appointment.”
Now Raine does know she’s prone to postpartum depression, so the second time around, she’s ready if postpartum depression strikes again.
“I have far more resources this time that I’m leaning on than I did- that’s making my life much easier,” Raine said.
She, along with doctors, urge other women to not feel the shame that is often associated with postpartum depression.
“But being a new mom, I think there’s just a societal expectation that you should know exactly what to do and you should feel very happy about it — and that’s sort of the irony of depression during this time period, is that everyone expects you to be overflowing with joy and sometimes that’s not the case and you haven’t done anything wrong if that’s what’s happening in your life, lots of contributing factors have brought you to this point- and what’s important is how we’re going to move forward,” Dr. Getch said.
And moving forward is asking for help from professionals and loved ones if you are struggling.
Postpartum anxiety is also very common and can be part of postpartum depression.
Men can also experience postpartum depression- men who are most at risk are those with a history of depression, those whose partner is experiencing postpartum depression, and those who have other major stressors surrounding the birth of a child.