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Postpartum / Postnatal Symptoms

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Postpartum depression (Postnatal depression) is a form of clinical depression that is somewhat more severe than the "baby blues" that are often experienced by women during the first two to three weeks after childbirth.

The symptoms of postpartum depression are varied and affect women differently. However, some clinical features of the condition include:

  • The symptoms may begin days, weeks or even months after childbirth.
  • Symptoms may occur whether the baby was delivered naturally or by caesarean section and whether the baby was healthy, ill or stillborn, although the risk for post natal depression is of course higher if a baby is ill or stillborn.
  • Mothers may experience a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood that does not seem to lift, along with excessive tearfulness that does not seem to have any specific trigger.
  • There may be a loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies that were previously enjoyed.
  • Difficulty concentrating and a feeling of apathy.
  • Confusion, difficulty making decisions and a loss of sense of time.
  • Sleep deprivation may lead to increased sleepiness during the day. Lack of sleep is common to a degree among women who have just given birth but insomnia that persists even after the baby has been put to bed and an inability to maintain regular and rested sleep may be a symptom of postpartum depression.
  • Mothers may feel a lack of self confidence and guilt about their perceived lack of parenting abilities. This usually arises due to unrealistic expectations the mother has about adjusting to motherhood immediately.
  • Loss of appetite or binge eating leading to either severe unexplained weight loss or weight gain after childbirth.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks accompanied by rapid heart rate, excessive fear and increased sweating.
  • Thoughts of harming the baby and difficulty bonding with the baby.
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts to self harm in extreme cases.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2013

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