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Adjusting to Life Before and After New Baby: Colorado Mom Resources

Baby Blues Colorado

Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, adjusting to life with a new baby can come with a wide mix of emotions. Along with preparing for sleepless nights and countless diaper changes, being aware of and being able to recognize potential signs and symptoms of perinatal (anytime during pregnancy through the first year postpartum) mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) will help you feel more prepared for parenthood.

What are the baby blues?

In the first two weeks after your baby is born, you may not feel quite like yourself and may have a bit more difficulty managing your emotions. You may also feel overwhelmed, but at the same time, you are still able to care for yourself and your baby. If you can relate to this, you are likely experiencing the baby blues, and these feelings are very common and normal.

What are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders?

PMAD is the term to describe the range of disorders or mental illnesses that parents may experience during this period. This can range from depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum PTSD, bipolar disorder to postpartum psychosis. PMADs are different than the baby blues as they are persistent and often with more severe symptoms lasting longer than two weeks after birth. In additional to the pregnant individual, their partner can also be at risk for experiencing a PMAD as well. 

What are some symptoms of PMAD to watch out for?

  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feeling irritable, anger or rage
  • Trouble bonding with the baby, minimal interest in the baby
  • General disinterest in things you used to enjoy
  • Sleep and appetite disturbances
  • Increase in crying, worrying and racing thoughts
  • Unwanted scary thoughts
  • Thoughts to harm yourself or your baby

What might make you more likely to develop a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder?

  • History of mental illness (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Lack of community/family/friend support
  • Pregnancy, conception, delivery and/or breastfeeding complications
  • Financial stress
  • History of abuse/trauma
  • Unwanted/unplanned pregnancy

 What can I do to prepare and protect myself?

  • Care for your body and mind
  • Rest when the baby rests
  • Spend time outside, if possible
  • Talk to other caregivers
  • Join a support group to meet new parents
  • Give yourself grace (It’s okay to not be perfect.)
  • Ask your family, partner and friends for help
  • Talk about how your feeling
  • Create time for you and your partner/support person

How has mental health support changed since COVID-19?

As we continue to battle the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on parental mental health still lingers. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in awareness about the need to better support maternal mental health. The pandemic has also advanced and normalized the use of telehealth mental health services and support groups. This allows parents to seek professional support from the comfort of their home, which alleviates a significant barrier.

Who can I reach out to?

-Stephanie Bourque, MD – Children’s Hospital Colorado Neonatologist; Carla Buckles, LCSW – Children’s Hospital Colorado Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Social Worker. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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