Tag Archives: Reproductive Health

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

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