When women are pregnant, they hear warnings about the Baby Blues and Perinatal, or Post Partum, Depression. They may think that they will not be issues after all, they are about to have a sweet baby in their arms! But the Baby Blues happen to a lot of women. Amy experienced them and while she is now smiling, she also noted that her time with the Baby Blues was awful.
Katie Stryker of Mechanicsburg gave birth to a baby girl in December 2015. She had been extremely excited to expand her family but a few days after Luci arrived, Stryker felt terrible.
“I was really sad. I was really happy. I was really anxious. I had issues with feeding. So I think there were all these things that I was kind of going through — I just felt all over the place,” admitted Stryker. “It wasn’t just one emotion it was a while bunch of emotions all at once.”
It lasted a week or so and then lifted. While the term “Baby Blues” is a sort of sing-song term, it can feel overwhelming. According to counselor Elaine McKenna, Stryker’s experience was typical. She explained that the Baby Blues start a few days after birth and usually last seven-10 days, affecting 70% of new moms.
“Although it is typical, that doesn’t mean it’s not profound,” noted McKenna, MSN, PMHCNS, BC. “A woman’s hormones are at the highest they will ever be: progesterone and estrogen levels during pregnancy are sky high. You deliver the baby, you deliver the placenta. Boom. Those hormones go down.”
McKenna added, “New moms will report they’re irritable, that they’re not sleeping, that they have this really kind of powerful sense of just being overwhelmed.”
When you add in unrealistic expectations of parenthood, it is truly tough.
Said McKenna, “When we buy into myths and unrealistic expectations, it’s a setup for depression. And anxiety.
“A good take home message is really, reach out. And when your friends reach out to you, don’t shut the door. You know, let them in.”
While the Baby Blues usually lift after a few days or weeks, Perinatal or Postpartum Depression is different. McKenna explained that it looks similar to Baby Blues but does not lift or it can begin four to eight weeks after baby arrives. True Perinatal or Postpartum Depression, she said, hits about 13-percent of women.
Sam Nenninger was one of those women. She appeared on Good Day PA to invite families out to “Climb out of the Darkness.”
Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety & OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis, bipolar/peripartum onset, and pregnancy depression and anxiety. Climb Out of the Darkness is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It features mothers and others across the globe joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery.
Two events are scheduled in the Midstate:
Saturday, June 18
West Pennsboro Park
Lancaster County Central Park