Vitality of the Mind Maria Littleton Postpartum

I spent this morning at the doctor’s office because my little guy hasn’t been feeling well. No matter how old your baby is, when you’re a new mom it’s all the same: it’s scary AF!!!!!
My little tyke had been having a fever for a couple of days, which turned into a suspicious cough. My heart was aching for him. He’s almost 3 years old, old enough to use some words, but not old enough to tell me exactly what he’s feeling or what he’s thinking.

Something that I quickly learned as a new mom was that I have no control over anything. And it’s even more apparent when our little guys get sick. I’d feel so helpless because I wasn’t able to help him. Actually, it was more like I wasn’t able to make his discomfort go away. When they are tiny they are limited to few things to help them feel better. Really, what I found most beneficial was a little TLC.

The things that kept coming up for me, that I wasn’t prepared for, were terrible self-doubting thoughts of what a terrible parent I was or how ill equipped I was. Sure, my perception may have been skewed a little bit, but that happens when we encounter something new. And what I didn’t know is that carrying these thoughts would later on end up feeling like a terrible parent or ill equipped could turn into something I really didn’t expect.

Once succumbed to these thoughts, it was a slippery slope that could have easily led to Postpartum Depression. In recent years the American Psychiatric Association updated their diagnosis for Postpartum Depression. They actually eliminated the diagnosis and it is now identified as a Major Depressive Episode with an onset in pregnancy or within 4 weeks of delivery. This doesn’t change the criteria of symptoms that need to be met for receiving a diagnosis. It simply means they re-organized Postpartum Depression as part of the Major Depression spectrum. The criteria is still as follows:

  • Depressed mood most of the day;
  • Loss of interest or pleasure, most of the day;
  • Change in weight or appetite. Weight: 5 percent change over 1 month;
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia;
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation;
  • Loss of energy or fatigue;
  • Worthlessness or guilt;
  • Impaired concentration or indecisiveness; or
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or attempt.

What the important part of this is that when you are at regular appointments for your baby or your check-ups it would be imperative to share with your provider if you are experiencing any of these. There are ways of dealing with these things that can easily be a part of your experience as a new mother.


American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5) reviewed Aug. 13, 2018
Epocrates: reviewed Aug. 13, 2018

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