This pages shares common emotional health reactions during pregnancy, the first year postpartum, and for those with a pregnancy loss, who have adopted, and women dealing with fertility challenges. The following can also be signs of Post-abortion Stress Syndrome or “PASS” as well.
Your emotional health during this time is extremely important. Below is a list of distressing emotional reactions that 1 in 5 women will experience during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth/adoption, infertility, miscarriage or loss. If any of these apply to you, please know that with proper support and early detection, most women can begin to feel better rapidly and more fully enjoy their lives, relationships, and the experience of parenting.
- Baby Blues– Signs include weepiness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Resolves or dramatically improves the first three weeks after childbirth. Up to 80% of women will experience the baby blues.
- Depression/ Anxiety – Symptoms include feeling anxious, agitated, sleeping too much or difficulty “sleeping when the baby sleeps”, excessive worrying, tearfulness, irritability, anger, guilt & shame, feeling disconnected from your family and/or baby, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, and possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself. (10-25%)
- Panic – Signs include feeling worried, anxious or very nervous most of the time. Recurring panic attacks, which include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and/or chest pain, nausea/vomiting or fear of dying. (15%)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – Can occur during pregnancy or following a childbirth which is perceived as traumatic. Usually involves distressing memories, irritability, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and efforts to avoid reminders of the trauma. Symptoms may be related to a prior traumatic experience or the birth itself. (3-5%)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Symptoms include intrusive and disturbing thoughts and/or images of harm coming to the baby, as well as a sense of horror about having these thoughts. Usually includes a preoccupation with keeping the baby safe through repetitive actions to reduce the fear and obsessions. Women disturbed by these thoughts are very unlikely to ever act on them. (3-5%)
- Postpartum Psychosis – Usually occurs within the first few days or weeks after birth. Includes having strange beliefs, hallucinations, irritability and agitation, inability to sleep, rapid mood changes, and poor decision-making. Women with psychosis are not disturbed by the nature of their thoughts or find them unusual. Women with psychosis are at significant risk for harming themselves and/or their infants, and need immediate crisis intervention. Occurs in 1-3 per 1000 births (.1-.3%)
- For women with bi-polar disorder. Women with bi-polar disorder are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing psychosis, particularly if they are not taking medication and are extremely sleep-deprived. It is important to develop a wellness plan with a practitioner familiar with postpartum illnesses. Having adequate support is a must.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please call to make an appointment, contact your healthcare provider and/or call Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4PPD (944-4773) www.postpartum.net. PSI is the largest perinatal support agency in U.S. PSI’s toll-free WarmLine (English & Spanish) serves over 1,000 callers a month and is staffed by a volunteer team of PSI trained responders who rapidly refer callers to appropriate local resources, including emergency services.