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Post Partum Depression

By Caroline Clauss-Ehlers

The baby blues, or feelings of fear, depression, and anguish, can occur days after childbirth and can include changes in mood such as feeling very happy and then very sad. These symptoms should resolve themselves between the first and second weeks after delivery. In contrast, post partum depression can occur a few days or months after delivery. Says The National Women's Health Information Center: "A woman can have feelings similar to the baby blues-sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability-but she feels them much more strongly than she would with the baby blues...When a women's ability to function is affected, this is a sure sign that she needs to see her health care provider right away."

Linda Santiago, Clinical Social Worker and Director of Stanton Street Houses, says "from the Latina perspective, post partum depression can relate to the idea of being not just supermom, but a superwoman. A superwoman makes sure her husband gets home cooked meals, keeps the house clean, takes her mom to the doctor, and provides translation for her aunt." Santiago, herself a first time mother of a 9-month old, talks about feeling guilty when she realized she could not be a superwoman and accomplish all the household chores after her son was born. Santiago encourages new moms who feel depressed to get help. "New moms can be honest about what they are feeling. Ask for help, even if it is from a friend, husband, or your own mom. Asking for help is something I did not do because it made me feel inadequate. I felt I was supposed to do this by myself."

From her point of view, Marleen Maldonado shares she felt no support from the medical system. "Obstetricians and gynecologists need to give support when you go for that follow up visit after the baby is born. If they show concern, you as a new mother can feel that it's alright to say you're depressed after giving birth and not feel like a bad mom."

This column is educational. It does not substitute for formal medical advice. Do not use this information without talking with a qualified professional.

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