Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the Yellow Wallpaper, 1892
It is wonderful to see the birth of a child greeted with warm enthusiasm and support. We celebrate the joy of a growing famil, and the excitement of a new life. Relatives and friends often provide gifts and extra help. But for some new moms, motherhood brings on many complex emotions besides the happy ones.
While we may greet a new baby with happiness and delight – not every woman will experience these emotions after childbirth. New mothers need understanding and support for ALL their emotions after the baby arrives.
These feelings include the ambivalent ones, the unexpected and confusing ones – and for some, the exhaustion, numbness and frightening thoughts that can come with postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorders.
More People Need to Know About PPD
I started working with women experiencing postpartum depression – or PPD — in graduate school. I was lucky enough to get some career training from Postpartum Support International and more recently from the 2020 Mom Project.
I realized then, and still feel now, that this mental health issue does not get the attention it deserves. All of us – from doctors to therapists to family and friends — can learn something to help.
Training with Karen Kleiman, Clinician, Author and PPD Expert
Meeting PPD expert Karen Kleiman, LCSW had been on my agenda for a long time. She is the founder of the Postpartum Stress Center, and is a dynamic author, speaker and educator based in Philadelphia. I’m near Washington DC, so I took a weekend and traveled with a friend and colleague to attend her recent workshop.
What an experience to be in a training session with Karen! She brings authenticity, excitement, brilliance and rich discussion to a topic that very much needs and deserves greater awareness.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
PPD is not the same as the “baby blues” – which are mood changes and adjustments during the first two weeks after childbirth. Karen finds that 85% of women experience these normal and expected symptoms after childbirth. They usually resolve on their own.
Karen has found that:
- 91% of new moms experience frightening or scary thoughts and feelings about caring for their newborn
- 88% of dads also experience fearful or scary thoughts such as anxiety especially around the ability to care for their baby
It is normal to worry about the way you feel toward a new baby at first. But if your concerns last longer than two weeks, that is good reason to seek help from a doctor or therapist.