My baby is a few weeks old. I just don’t feel like myself. I’m so tired, and I cry at the drop of the hat. I fear it might be post-partum depression. Did you have it?
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Looking back, I believe so. My daughter was almost two when our triplets were born. I knew that I needed help, but it was hard to find. I tried some live-in nannies. The first one was a disaster. The second one left after two weeks. My mom came to help, but she had to go home to Pakistan when the babies were only five weeks old.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was also battling post-partum depression. I was so exhausted, so overwhelmed. All I remember from my triplets’ first seven weeks is darkness.
Two weeks after my mom left, in desperation, my husband and our four babies all flew back to Pakistan. It was the trip from hell! But as soon as we got home, it was awesome. My dad, a retired pediatrician, arranged for three pediatric nurses and three hospital workers to help with the babies. That helped me to rest and almost immediately I felt like a cloud had lifted off my head. I believe that the change in my environment helped a lot, and having so much help and support from my family was critical. Thankfully, I never got to the point of taking medicine for the depression.
—Sadaf T. Bhutta M.B.,B.S., a mom of a three-year-old daughter and 18-month-old triplets and an assistant professor and the fellowship director of pediatric radiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, both in Little Rock
When to call your doctor or midwife: Call 911 or other emergency help if you think you cannot keep from harming yourself, your baby, or another person. You can also call the national suicide hotline, National Hopeline Network, at 800-784-2433, or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453.
Call your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of post-partum depression, such as depressed mood, loss of pleasure in activities, sleep problems, extreme fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, or difficulty concentrating.
Also call your doctor immediately if you have hallucinations involving smell, touch, hearing, or sight or if you are having thoughts that may not be based in reality (delusions). Examples of delusions are fears that someone is watching you, stealing from you, or reading your mind.
Note: According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of self-reported postpartum depression ranged from 11.7% in Maine to 20.4% in New Mexico.