Postpartum Mood Disorders and Difficulties

It’s recently been widely reported that singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, age 38, admits she waited about a year and four months before seeking help for one of the postpartum mood disorderspostpartum depression (PPD), that she had after giving birth to her son in December 2010. She encourages others, however, to be more proactive than that.

A new song of hers, “Numb,” featured on her latest album, Havoc and Bright Lightsis about this postpartum experience.

In a blog post entitled “Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?,” psychologist Shoshana Bennett differentiates between the milder conditions (of the “blues” category) that new moms may experience and the more severe forms—she notes that PPD is the most common of six different types of postpartum mood disorders. Check out the article for further details.

Postpartum.net offers some things to consider if you’re wondering about having postpartum depression. Just one “yes” answer to any of the questions below may indicate a problem. For more info, click on the link in this paragraph.

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Do you feel more irritable or angry with those around you?
  • Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?
  • Do you feel anxious or panicky?
  • Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?
  • Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out
    of your mind?
  • Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?
  • Do you feel like you never should have become a mother?
  • Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?

Jessica Valenti‘s book Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness  was called by Publishers Weekly “a politicized, anti-What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Valenti writes about suffering from PTSD as a result of her own experience, which involved having an emergency C-section. Although she rose to the occasion in the immediate aftermath, she eventually had serious difficulties that included flashbacks and a sleep disorder.

Writer Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon) adds significant insight into this condition, including why some moms might have a harder time than others:

…Valenti deserves kudos for illuminating the harsh, often horrifying reality of PTSD. We all have unique experiences. What triggers months of nightmares in one person might be easily overcome by another. The reason why has very little to do with maturity or strength of character, and a lot to do with good fortune and brain chemistry. Sometimes that’s very hard to explain and understand…

While some critics wish Jessica Valenti had considered the “why have kids” of her title as a question that could have any possible answer, others are satisfied with the more apt “why (bother to) have kids” interpretation.

From a brief article, “5 Reasons Not to Have Kids,” that Valenti adapted from her book:

  1. Our society does not support mothers. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave, putting families and children at severe economic risk…
  2. Inequality. Women still do the bulk of domestic work whether it’s household chores or raising children. And when previously equal marriages bring babies into the mix, the relationship shifts to a more traditional one…
  3. Happiness. The expectation of a sense of self-worth, pride, joy and completeness that comes with becoming a parent is exaggerated and unobtainable, making the reality all the more harsher when it inevitably descends. Having children does not make people happier…
  4. Money/Maternal Pay Gap. Having children costs a lot of money and resources…
  5. Change/Independence. Having children can disrupt relationships: your friends, colleagues, and most directly your spouse. When women become mothers, they are more likely to report unhappiness in their marriage…

For more details, click on the link above—Valenti, of course, supports her points with some research.

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