Baby Center - Advice for Moms

Surviving the Blues: Postpartum Depression

Evidence points to the idea that even the most enthused mothers-to-be often suffer from the "baby blues" once their child is born. While this idea may seem unfathomable to pregnant moms, the prevalence of those new moms who cry for no reason, are irritable, restless, and anxious is so high that the American Psychiatric Association estimates that up to 70% of all new mothers have a tendency to feel emotionally letdown.

Moreover, some women have even more extreme feelings. These feelings are often referred to as postpartum depression. The American Psychiatric Association states that about one in 10 new mothers experience some degree of postpartum depression. This usually occurs within days after the delivery, and these feelings can last as long as a year after the baby is born. Postpartum feelings include:

  • Sluggishness
  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Feelings of hopelessness or depression
  • Disturbances with appetite and sleep
  • Confusion
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Lack of interest in the baby and oneself
  • Fear of harming the baby or oneself
  • Mood swings—alternating from both feeling high to feeling low

Those women who suffer from postpartum depression usually have several of these symptoms. These symptoms may alternate in their severity, and they may come and go. Among the most prevalent feelings of postpartum victims are the feelings of isolation, guilt, and shame.

Some women run the risk of postpartum episodes with psychotic features. This is particularly prevalent in those women who have a history of mood disorders and those who have experienced postpartum depression from earlier deliveries. Those who experience psychotic episodes generally hallucinate of killing the infant or believe that the infant is possessed. This can evolve into psychosis should a dramatic or traumatic event occur during this time.

What's the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?
While both are unfortunate to experience, the baby blues are distinguished from postpartum depression because it typically lasts a shorter period of time, and it is not as debilitating as postpartum depression. The baby blues is generally an emotional letdown that does not interfere with the mother's daily life.

Can I know beforehand if I will experience postpartum depression?
While it is impossible to determine exactly who will or will not experience postpartum depression, there are those who are more susceptible to having it. Among those are, those who have a family history of postpartum depression and/or other mood disorders, women who suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome, and those women who have experienced postpartum depression previously.

Why do I have these feelings?
The most important thing to remember if you are suffering from postpartum depression is that it is not your fault. Mothers have no say as to their low feelings after giving birth; physicians believe that postpartum depression is caused by hormones in new mothers, which undergo many changes after birth. Estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid all have strong effects on moods, and each of these is rapidly changing in a woman who has just given birth. Again, mothers have no say as to whether or not they will experience postpartum depression. Put simply, your body is just going through many changes.

How can I feel better?
These symptoms are very real, and mothers who are feeling any one of the aforementioned symptoms need to take it seriously. Like those who suffer from mood disorders, the best route in alleviating postpartum depression is the combination of both psychotherapy and medication. The American Psychiatric Association says that the ideal treatment plan includes:

  • Medical evaluation (to rule out physiological problems)
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication (if applicable)
  • Support group
There are many support groups now out there to help those mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression. Websites like Mothers of Preschoolers (www.mops.org) emphasize to those women who are suffering from postpartum depression that:
  • You are not alone.
  • You are not to blame.
  • Your experience is real.
  • There is help, and you will be well.

Information taken from "Postpartum Depression," HealthyMinds.

Saving for your Child's Education

With the excitement that comes in expecting, there are also many subjects that, more often than not, cause all future parents to worry. Among the many is the idea of eventually paying for your child's education, namely, college. With college tuition ever increasing, and all the repeated advertisements of banks and financial advisors to begin planning now for your child’s education, it can often lead even the most organized of people to ask, how will I be able to afford a child?

Even with numerous bills and debts to pay off, you can start saving for your child's college fund immediately. And, the earlier you begin saving for this fund, the less strain it will be for you in the future. Unfortunately, families today tend to spend what they have, saving less than 1% of their disposable (or, spendable) income. Let's break this habit now!

The Urge to Spend vs. the Urge to Save: We all fall victim to this. We receive a bonus or a raise, and suddenly we have more money that can be used for a nice evening out, new furniture, or a down payment on a larger home. Don't beat yourself up; we all do it! But, rather than spending this "extra" money right away, my advice is to begin saving. Having an increase in income is the easiest time to start saving. So, identify the fund you will be saving for. Here, it would be your child's college fund. Now establish a financial goal to strive for.

Simple Savings Plan: The key phrase in this step is "don’t overdo it!" As you begin organizing a savings plan, you may tend to get over excited and plan to save too much too soon. Though you may think that your motivation will continue as time passes, more often than not people who set their standards too high will burn out easily and give up saving all together. Instead, why not put aside a little amount with every paycheck received? For example, set aside $20 each time you are paid. Twenty bucks is hardly a number you’ll miss, and it will go a long way if you consistently take it out of each paycheck. After a year, increase that number to $30, and watch how your savings will accumulate!

Automatic Payment: Why not help yourself veer away from temptation? Most banks allow their customers to make monthly deductions from your paycheck or checking account. By doing this, you are ensuring that the designated amount will be going into your savings with every paycheck. This is particularly important during the times of the year that extra money, no matter how much, would be nice (i.e. Christmas).

"Laying a Nest Egg," Cindy Sumner, Mothers of Preschoolers.

Tips to Help the Working Mom

In a world filled with multitasking—where we can communicate by both phone and computer simultaneously while eating breakfast and watching the toddler, we often find ourselves overwhelmed, to say the least. Those mothers who work have an especially busy schedule, and they may wonder how they will ever get through the day, much less the week, the month, and year with so many things to do.

While I'd like to take credit for the following advice, I cannot. I came across a wonderful website called "The Working Moms Refuge" when I began researching articles for the baby center on my website. This particular website is designed to provide articles, advice, and support to those women who spend most of the day enveloped in both their work and in changing their child's diapers.

In one article, "10 Tips for Taming Tension & Stress," Joan Woods, the author, lists ways to help reduce stress, providing many ideas which are:

  • Change your response to the stressor.
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
  • Become productive not destructive. Learn lessons from life so that you don't keep making the same mistakes.
  • Know when perfection is not possible and adjust accordingly.
  • Get rid of anger, and know your stress threshold.
  • Prioritize. Know what you can and cannot do. Make a list of those you can do.
  • Nurture your spirituality. Find peace of mind on a regular basis.
  • Refrain from a negative attitude, and avoid things that make you critical, that are unsupportive, or that cause you to lose control, self-respect, or your mind!
  • Slow down. Take a vacation. Find a hobby.

Information from Moms Refuge.

Childcare Tips

All moms are faced with the same problem: childcare. While it can be a relief, childcare can also bring stress and frustration, especially if the caregiver is pushy or overly demanding. Before long, the problem may be out of control. Let's avoid this situation, because, after all, childcare is meant as a means of helping parents. On the website, "Working Moms Refuge,"" Gayle Kesten advises her fellow moms on this situation:

Be realistic. Don't enter into a new childcare situation expecting to boss around your new "employee" immediately. Allow enough time to pass so that the caregiver does not feel as though he/she was overpowered from the get go. Try waiting a week to observe the caregiver before making any suggestions.

Be genuinely interested in the caregiver's life. Say, "Good morning. How was your weekend? How are your parents?" By taking an active interest in the caregiver, you are sending him/her the signal that this is more than just a business relationship. Make the caregiver feel as though you truly care about them, and by doing so, he/she may develop friendlier feelings that will ultimately benefit your child, and make both you and the caregiver happier with the situation.

Know when to fight. Kesten advises against a mother who complains about everything. She says, "...your legitimate complaints seem less serious if you're constantly harboring on the less consequential things." It's important to understand that no one else, no matter how wonderful the caregiver, will do things exactly the way you do. Give up that notion, as long as you don't see a negative pattern beginning, and battle the bigger issues.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Emphasize to any and all caregivers your feelings. Let them know again and again that they may call you at work should there be a problem, or that your child needs a nap at exactly the same time everyday. Whatever is important to you, let them know without a doubt.

Focus on the positive. Let your caregiver know that she's done a good job and how much you appreciate anything (no matter how small) he/she has done. Believe it or not, this will go a long way. Not only will he/she feel more positively towards you and your child, chances are, he/she will do that action again and be more receptive to you should you have a concern.

Keep an open line of communication. We all know that, in some situations, it may be hard to express yourself and your views, but openly discuss your feelings in a non-confrontational approach. Instead of stating your dissatisfaction with something he/she may have done, approach it in a way that a solution can be reached together. This will foster a better relationship between the two of you and ultimately better care for your child.

Don't be afraid to get mad over the big things. Should the caregiver do something that really upsets you, don't be afraid to let him/her know. By expressing your anger, the caregiver will see just how upset his/her action made you feel, and he/she will know not to do that again. But, after the anger subsides, discuss the issue with the caregiver, explaining exactly what he/she did to upset you.

Go to a higher authority. Should you have a caregiver who seems unresponsive to your thoughts and feelings, don't hesitate to talk to his/her supervisor. More often than not, the supervisor will be able to get through to the caregiver in a way that you have not.

Be willing to compromise. As you know, life does not always work out the way we expect, so be willing to compromise without losing your ideals and beliefs.

Move on. As mentioned previously, things don't always work out the way you expect, and no one will do things exactly the way you may do them. With that said, should things form a pattern that you are not comfortable with, it may be time to seek out another caregiver. Bottom line, your children are important; you would not be reading this article if they were not. So, if you feel the slightest bit of discomfort, don't go against your instinct. Find the situation that best fits your needs and wants, so that you can walk away from your child feeling safe.

Information from Moms Refuge.

The Healthy Relationship When Kids are Involved

We've all heard the facts: 50% of all marriages today end in divorce. Now add a child or two, and your marriage problems get scarier. Suddenly, you can't remember the last time you had a decent time with your spouse, and you can't remember why you are married to him/her.

Sound familiar? Don't worry; this happens to all (new) parents. In fact, statistics will show that the first couple of years of being a parent are the worst times for your marriage. Why is this? Because you and your spouse have suddenly taken the time that you allotted for each other and given it to other people, i.e. your child(ren). The key now is to find other ways to spend time with your spouse. Pack the children up in the car, drive, and talk to your spouse. Or, go to a family restaurant that has a game room for kids. Take the time now to talk to your spouse.

Ultimately, both partners need to be involved in their children's life. A greater satisfaction with one's marriage comes from this. So, work with your spouse. Communicate with your spouse, even if only for a few minutes. And, spend whatever time you have to spare with your spouse. This, overall, will create intimacy with each other.

Information from Moms Refuge.

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