Your baby has finally arrived, and you’re experiencing the joy of new life – plus the rush of adrenaline that comes with it. But with that excitement comes an influx of hormones, sleep deprivation, and a (sometimes unwelcome) new spotlight.

If, at any point, the overwhelm starts to feel unmanageable, know that you’re not alone. Read on for some of the more common postpartum issues, plus tips for finding a perinatal therapist who’s right for you.

Keep an eye out for these three postpartum mental health concerns

Although your exact symptoms (if any) will depend on your situation, here are three postpartum mental health concerns to be aware of:

Baby Blues

Baby blues are estimated to affect 60 – 80% of new moms and are caused by the extreme hormone fluctuation at the time of birth.

They’re unrelated to stress or psychiatric history, often peak three to five days after delivery, and cease on their own within two weeks. Symptoms include crying, feeling overwhelmed with motherhood, fatigue, and some emotional lability.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression refers to persistent symptoms of depression that arrive after the baby’s birth – which, unlike baby blues, do not go away on their own. 

Postpartum depression often presents with symptoms such as weight changes, sleep disturbances, changes in energy level, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, concentration difficulties, or suicidal thoughts. 

Postpartum anxiety

Postpartum anxiety is characterized as excessive, uncontrollable, and irrational anxiety (including panic attacks) in the months after giving birth. These overblown fears can inhibit a new mom’s ability to perform even small acts like going outside.

Additionally, there are other postpartum experiences that aren’t easily classified – such as the overwhelm that often arises when women undergo the life transition when becoming a new mom. Becoming a parent is a huge identity shift, and it’s natural to struggle while learning how to incorporate this new identity into your life.

Therapy can be incredibly helpful – whether or not you have a pressing mental health concern

You don’t have to be experiencing intense symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, to want to go to, or benefit from therapy.

Working with a therapist can help you with many other challenges that come with new parenthood: navigating the work-life-parenting balance, growing together as a couple and newly co-parents, or even helping you bond with your infant.

If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum anxiety, depression, or another related concern, it may help to know that therapy is an effective treatment method. For example, a panel of experts recently reported that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy are effective treatments for most women with postpartum depression.

You can also consider support groups, which can give you perspective, understanding, and solidarity from other parents who are also dealing with the same topics.

Start your search for a perinatal therapist by looking for credentials and comfort

Look for a therapist you feel comfortable with, and who has appropriate background.

If you are seeking a therapist for postpartum concerns, make sure to prioritize both the therapist’s expertise and the level of comfort that you feel with the therapist (a connection known as the therapeutic alliance).

You should feel that you can open up to the therapist and that she or he truly understands what you are experiencing

Jane Hesser, a therapist in Rhode Island and expert in prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety, recommends finding a therapist who specializes in working with perinatal women. These therapists have an in-depth understanding of attachment as well as evidence-based treatment modalities for perinatal mood disorders. They can easily describe what those modalities are, why they help, and — after getting to know you — determine what might be most helpful for you.

Totally new to therapy? Here are some professions and acronyms to look for:

  • Psychologist (PhD, PsyD)
  • Social worker (LICSW, LCSW)
  • Counselor (LMHC)
  • Marriage and family therapist (LMFT)

If medication may be necessary, look for:

  • Psychiatrist (MD, DO)
  • Nurse Practitioners (NP, APRN, CNS)

Ask a therapist these questions

Once you’ve found a therapist or two that you’d like to connect with, schedule a call to assess fit!

Here are some helpful questions to ask on this introductory call:

Can you tell me a bit about your practice?

Do you have experience working with clients having postpartum issues?

What therapy approach do you use in treating postpartum issues?

How frequently and for how long do you see clients for postpartum issues?

What is your insurance policy?

How frequently and for how long do you see clients for postpartum issues?

Therapy can be a tool for success as you navigate the massive life transition of being responsible for a new life. Taking care of yourself and your needs does, ultimately, help you and your new baby thrive!

*Nanobébé is thrilled to welcome guest bloggers. The views and opinions represented in these blog posts belong solely to the guest blogger and are not the legal responsibility of the company. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by the guest blogger and will not be held liable for any errors or omissions of information nor for the availability of this information. 

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