The adoption process is very emotional for everyone involved, and birthmothers may be especially affected. The highs and lows that come with pregnancy may be intensified for mothers who have placed their child with another family. Birthmothers may experience grief and the accompanying stages that follow, such as anger, sorrow, denial, shock, and depression.
Postpartum depression is a natural occurrence in many mothers. Knowing its symptoms and acknowledging when you are experiencing them is important for birthmothers. It’s also important for the adoptive family to offer support to the birthmother throughout this challenging and emotional time. This article will cover some of the symptoms of postpartum depression as well as ways to cope with the illness.
Symptoms of PPD
Postpartum depression, PPD, is the complex set of behavioral, emotional and physical changes that affect some mothers during or shortly after their pregnancy. Postpartum depression is a type of depression that usually occurs up to four weeks after childbirth.
The symptoms of PPD vary from person to person, and even from day to day. If you are a birthmother, you may be experiencing PPD if you have noticed the following symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness, even if there is no explanation
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Inability to sleep, even though you feel very tired
- Frequent mood changes
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
Among these symptoms are signs of major depression as well, like a loss of interest in normal activities or feelings of worthlessness. The cause of postpartum depression is most likely a dramatic change in hormones in the mother’s body after childbirth. During pregnancy, hormones increase gently in the mother’s body. After birth, these hormones are sharply reduced, changing the chemicals in your brain and often shocking the body.
It’s important to try to keep in mind that these symptoms are normal and affect roughly 15% of all mothers that give birth. It’s likely that the number is even higher for birthmothers.
How to Cope with Postpartum Depression
If you’ve recognized these symptoms and feel that you or even a loved one are experiencing PPD, there are ways to cope with these complex changes. Birthmothers experiencing PPD shouldn’t expect to feel “normal,” because this isn’t a normal time! It’s a complicated and emotional period of your life, so don’t overlook it.
- First, acknowledge your feelings and don’t feel afraid or guilty for being sad. Sadness is not a weakness.
- Do your best to remind yourself that you are strong. This can be hard when your brain may feel differently, but a good friend or birthmother who has gone through similar experiences may be able to remind you of your strength. If you feel like talking, a support group is also a good option.
- Like other illnesses, there is medicine for PPD. Talk to a doctor about what you are experiencing to see if a prescribed medication is right for you and your unique circumstances.
- Try to get out of the house and do something you’ve wanted to do. It may be beneficial to switch up your routine every now and then, too, if you feel up to it.