The Postpartum Period

The Postpartum Period

In this section, you will learn about PMADS and the afterbirth changes in a new mother.


Definitions from Postpartum Support International

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Women of every culture, age, income level, and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. There are effective and well-researched treatment options to help you recover. Although the term "postpartum depression" is most often used, there are several forms of illness that women may experience.

Postpartum Depression: Depression during and after pregnancy occurs more often than most people realize. Depression during pregnancy is also called antepartum or prenatal depression, and depression after pregnancy is called postpartum depression.

Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth. The percentages are even higher for women dealing with poverty and can be twice as high for teen parents. Ten percent of women experience depression in pregnancy. Perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth.

Postpartum Anxiety: Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.

Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed of perinatal disorders. You do not have to be diagnosed with OCD to experience these common symptoms of perinatal anxiety. It is estimated that as many as 3-5% of new mothers and some new fathers experience these symptoms. The repetitive, intrusive images and thoughts are very frightening and can feel like they come "out of the blue." Research has shown that these images are anxious, not delusional, and have a very low risk of being acted upon. It is far more likely that the parent with this symptom takes steps to avoid triggers and avoid what they fear is potential harm to the baby.

Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Approximately 9% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often, this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum.

Postpartum Psychosis: Postpartum Psychosis is a rare illness compared to postpartum depression or anxiety rates. It occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries or approximately .1 -.2% of births. The onset is usually sudden, most often within the first two weeks postpartum.


Postpartum Support International Warm Line

In an Emergency

Resources for Fathers

Volunteer with Postpartum Support International

Recommended Reading

Beyond the Blues

A Mother's Climb Out Of Darkness: A Story about Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis

Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness: Mom Stories from the Trenches

The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for living with Postpartum Depression

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