Maternal mental health issues affect many mothers. More than you might think.

Maternal mental health issues affect many mothers.
More than you might think.

There is a vulnerability associated with pregnancy when it comes to mental health. Lack of awareness or unnecessary stigma often prevents expectant mothers from preparing for all of the hormonal, physical, situational and psychological changes that occur in the months leading to and after delivery. Even women who seemingly had it all together before pregnancy can find themselves struggling to adjust to their  “new normal” of a messy world order—and exhaustion—that come with a baby.

Symptoms* can be successfully treated with education, stress management, counseling, medication, or a combination.

  • Depression/Anxiety during pregnancy  15-21% of pregnant women experience moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression during pregnancy. Depression symptoms can include sadness, guilt, irritability, hopelessness, lack of motivation. Anxiety symptoms can include chronic worrying, restlessness, physical panic, and intrusive thoughts. Proper treatment can prevent related postpartum symptoms.
  • “Baby blues” 60 to 85 percent of mothers experience the baby blues which typically lasts four to nine days. Symptoms include feeling stressed, lonely, sad, anxious, exhausted and weepy.
  • Postpartum depression (PPD)  Approximately 21% percent of new mothers experience persistent feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, guilt, irritation, sadness and restlessness. Symptoms last for more than two weeks. PPD is often characterized by not attaching or bonding with the baby, and in some instances, PPD moms may have thoughts of suicide.
  • Postpartum anxiety Approximately 11% of mothers may experience anxiety (increased worry or obsessions, physical panic, and intrusive thoughts). A smaller percentage of women, who experience a traumatic birth experience, can have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  symptoms which can include anxiety and depression symptoms and flashbacks.
  • Postpartum psychosis is very rare and must be treated immediately. It is characterized by racing thoughts, mania, depression, severe confusion, paranoia, hallucinations, and paranoia. Symptoms begin suddenly, usually in the first two weeks after delivery and can last up to three months.

*Note: postpartum symptoms are not limited to the first few weeks/months. They can emerge at any time in the year following pregnancy and birth.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to tell someone—a family member, friend or healthcare professional.  Know that you are not alone.

Maternal mental health symptoms are not your fault and do not reflect your character or will. Strong mothers face many of these mental health challenges and wonder if they will ever feel like themselves again. The answer is a definite yes!  

Practicing self-care—eating regularly, getting enough sleep, and establishing a support network—is critical to positive mental health.

At Virginia Women’s Center, we treat the whole woman—body, and mind. We’re able to offer support in the comfort of surroundings already familiar to our patients.

We offer a postpartum workshop, led by Dr. Lisa Cuseo-Ott, on Mondays, from 5-6 pm — free of charge.

If you need to talk to someone urgently, we offer individual counseling, and the cost is typically covered by insurance.

Let us help.  804.288.4084  In addition to your VWC Care Team, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new, confidential, toll-free hotline for expecting and new moms who might be experiencing mental health challenges and issues. You can call that number at 1-833-9-HELP-4-MOMS.