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Facts on Postpartum Depression and My Responsibility as a Childbirth Educator

4 Nov

I attended the 2012 Lamaze Conference this year in Nashville. I gained a great deal of insight on a number of topics, but the one that won’t leave me alone was the lecture I sat in on postpartum depression taught by Genae Strong, PhD, CNM, RNC-OB, IBCLC 

Having dealt with postpartum depression with both my children, and as Lamaze certified childbirth educator, I was curious to see what would be shared. I’ll be honest, the information surrounding PPD left me unsettled.

Did you know?  

  • PPD is a potentially debilitating mood disorder usually detected between 2-6 weeks after birth. (Zauderer, 2009)
  • 10-25% of women are affected during their pregnancy or postpartum period with PPD. (Bansil et al, 2010)
  • PPD is the most under-diagnosed obstetrical complication in the United States. (Earls, 2010)
  • The mother generally doesn’t have an actual estimation of the severity of her illness.
  • “PPD is a treatable mood disorder but it is not preventable.” – Genae Strong, PhD, CNM, RNC-OB, IBCLC  (Please note, there is a difference in prevention vs. preparation.)

Higher Risk Factors for PPD include (but not limited to): 

  • Smoking
  • Bottle feeding
  • History of depression
  • A family history of PPD
  • A previous episode of PPD

What’s the difference between Maternal Blues (MB) and PPD

MB includes: 

  • 50-80% of mothers experience MB (almost every mother)
  • Appears within the first few days – 2 weeks
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling sad, anxious or overwhelmed
  • Crying spells
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping

PPD includes:

  • 13-20% of mothers experience PPD
  • Usually detected between 2-6 weeks after birth
  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed or hopeless
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Not wanting to socialize or join in – social isolation


PPD has long-term effects on the infant, including (but not limited to):

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Eating difficulties
  • Unusual sensory sensitivities
  • Depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Separation distress
  • Extreme inhibition
  • Shyness

(Conroy, 2012)

As a childbirth educator I need to:

  • Teach the difference between what normal and abnormal emotional and physical responses in the postpartum period look like.
  • Encourage women who stop smoking during pregnancy to continue with their efforts.
  • Encourage breastfeeding.
  • Encourage women to attend at least one postpartum care visit with a health worker.
  • Provide handouts with local support information for mothers and families.
  • Describe treatment methods for PPD (both medical and non-medical methods) and encourage their use.
  • Carefully express the reality that PPD touches not only the mother, but the most vulnerable victim – the child.

For more resources, please visit Postpartum Progress.

To screen yourself for PPD, please visit: Postpartum Support

13 Billion Saved Annually if Mothers Would Breastfeed

12 Jul

I’ve known for a while, thanks to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that the US would save a whopping 13 billion dollars a year if 90% of mothers could (or would) breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of life.  Not only that, but 911 infant lives would be saved annually.  This profound bit of information shows us the impact that breastfeeding can make for not only a child, but for our entire population.  With this information in mind, I sat down and created this meme shown above.

I’ve also included a portion of the abstract from the study cited above:

Results: If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance).

Conclusions: Current US breastfeeding rates are suboptimal and result in significant excess costs and preventable infant deaths. Investment in strategies to promote longer breastfeeding duration and exclusivity may be cost-effective.

Source: click here to read original abstract.

Breastfeeding Drama in the Animal Kingdom

12 Jul

I am visiting my childhood home in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Each evening I look out the window and see the cows grazing lazily in the field. Seeing these dairy cows grazing brings to mind plenty of memories of growing up of watching sweet new calves nuzzle and feed from their mammas.  In light of those memories, I was inspired me to create these two new breastfeeding memes:

If Moms Wore Uniforms

10 Jul

There are days when I feel so far from heroic that I feel like the I’m the punchline in a joke. But some days, like today, when my daughter reached over to me and placed her sticky hands on my face, and said with perfect innocence, “Mommy, I will love you forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever…” I understand that saving the world, at least my corner of it, might be possible … one tender moment at a time.

To every reluctant hero, wear your uniform proud!


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