Postpartum Depression for Birth Mothers: What to Know

Placing a baby for adoption is one of hardest things that any parent can do, and it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of grief and loss during your pregnancy and after the adoption. But while feelings of sadness are normal after the birth of your child, it’s not uncommon for it to grow into something more. The truth is that postpartum depression can happen to any woman, no matter what her circumstances are, and it happens more often than you might think. Even if you know adoption was the best choice for you and your baby, that might not be enough to stop one of the most common experiences for birth mothers.

If you’re wondering about what’s normal, what the common symptoms of postpartum depression are, and when it’s time to seek help from a professional, keep reading to learn more.

What Makes Postpartum Depression Different from the “Baby Blues”?

Any woman can experience feelings of sadness after giving birth to a child. Normal “baby blues” typically starts within the first few days after giving birth. While these feelings can be less severe than postpartum depression and are often much shorter, it’s important that you don’t ignore any changes happening in your body.

In an adoption, the birth of your child can be a very overwhelming transition, and you might feel everything from sadness to anger, denial, and much more during this period. It is normal, and even expected, to go through a grieving process after placing your child for adoption. But, in addition to these feelings of grief and loss, it’s possible to suffer from symptoms of postpartum depression, as well.

Postpartum depression usually lasts longer than two weeks and can be severe. While you can find ways to cope with the traditional feelings of grieving after the birth of your child, depression can start to feel like a constant in your life — and it can become so insidious that you may feel as if you’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Common signs of postpartum depression to look out for include:

  • Loss of/extreme changes in appetite
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Self‐blame and guilt
  • Irritability
  • Loss of enjoyment from activities you used to enjoy
  • Self‐isolation
  • Anxiety and panic attacks

If left untreated, symptoms of postpartum depression can become life-threatening. If you start to have serious thoughts of hurting yourself, please seek help immediately. You can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 though their Lifeline Chat or at 1-800-273-8255.

How to Cope with Postpartum Depression

If you’re noticing any of the above symptoms, here are some suggestions for how to cope in the meantime.

  • Remember, you should never feel weak or ashamed for calling out for help. Many adoption counselors and hotlines are always available 24/7, and will be ready to help answer any of your questions.
  • Always remember that you can reach out to a healthcare provider who understands the severity of postpartum depression. There are also medicines and other resources your doctor can recommend. Postpartum depression is 100 percent treatable, and there are many options available.
  • One of the best things that you can do for your mental health if you’re suffering from postpartum depression is to reach out to those that love you. While it’s easy to isolate yourself, your family and friends are here to help in any way they can.
  • There are many birth mothers who know exactly what you’re going through. If you’re looking to speak with someone who’s been in your shoes, there are support groups available if coping on your own becomes too difficult.
  • Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep every night can do wonders for your mental health overall. Your doctor can give you plenty of advice to help make the right plan for you.
  • Considering maintaining contact with your child and the adoptive family. While you don’t have to have a fully open adoption, seeing your child thriving in their new environment can help ease some of your feelings of grief and loss.
  • If you can, try to incorporate some new activities and hobbies into your daily routine. Getting out of the house and trying something new can help tremendously.

It’s so important to keep an eye on your mental health as the pregnancy progresses so that you’re able to spot any red flags. The best person to speak to about postpartum depression will always be your doctor or a medical professional, but don’t be afraid to reach out to your adoption specialist for additional support while you’re waiting to be properly diagnosed.

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