Postpartum

 

Publications

 

"Postpartum Symptom Checklist" copyright C. Hines,1987, Gateway Postpartum Research Collective, St. Louis - SEE BELOW.


"The New Mother History" copyright C. Hines,1988, Gateway Postpartum Research Collective, St. Louis


"Am I at Risk for Postpartum Depression?" copyright C. Hines, A. Edmunds, D. Sanford ,1989 ,The Women's Well, St. Mary's Health Center

 

Postpartum Symptom Checklist - Copyright '87 C. Hines

Eighty percent of women experience a brief episode after delivery called "the baby blues" which is most likely related to changing hormonal levels.  You may feel more emotional than usual, you may be tearful or weepy, you may feel down or have swings in your mood.  The "baby blues" usually occurs about three to seven days following delivery and may last up to one week.

Symptoms which persist for more than a week, worsen or interfere with your ability to function or care for yourself or your baby or which are disturbing to you or those around you can be signs of a more serious difficulty which may require professional treatment.  The following are signs and symptoms which a new mother may experience and which should be evaluated by a professional.

1.  Confusion

2.  Changing state of how you feel.

3.  Obsessive thoughts about yourself or your baby.

4.  Feeling distant from your baby.

5.  Feeling sad, irritable or having elevated mood most of the day, every day for two weeks or more.

6.  Loss of interest or enjoyment in usual activities or an increased involvement in many activities at once but unable to follow through or complete them.

7.  Loss of appetite or marked increase in appetite, especially with weight loss or weight gain.

8.  Difficulty with sleep; trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early or difficulty waking up, little need for sleep or need for more sleep than usual, not getting enough sleep on a regular basis (sleep deprivation).

9.  Feeling or acting restless or slowed down.

10.  Loss of energy or marked increase in energy.

11.  Feeling worthless or excessively guilty or having marked inflation of self-esteem.

12.  Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

13.  Much more talkative than usual, racing thoughts or a feeling of not being able to slow down.

14.  Withdrawal from others.

15.  Excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol.

16.  Inability or lack of desire to care for yourself or your baby.

17.  Unusual eating patterns, self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic use to control or reduce weight.

18.  Periods of extreme anxiety, feelings that you are going to go crazy or that you are going to die.

19.  Recurrent, disturbing dreams or nightmares, memories or flashbacks.

20.  Recurrent, unwanted thoughts, images or impulses.

21.  Practicing irrational, repetitive, ritual behaviors that you cannot refrain from (checking things, washing, cleaning, etc.)

 

The following symptoms require immediate attention by a psychiatrist (medical doctor) and should never be ignored or dismissed.

 

1.  Poor judgment with excessive activity (spending sprees, driving recklessly, etc.)

2.  Thoughts of harming oneself, infant or others.

3.  Bizarre or unusual thoughts or ideas.

4.  Bizarre or unusual behavior or sensations.

5.  Incoherent speech or no speech.

6.  Feelings that people are trying to hurt you or are watching you.

7.  Hearing voices or seeing things that others do not.

8.  Feelings that you do not exist or that you are going to die.

9.  Feelings that people are putting ideas into your head or taking them out.

10.  Feeling that you have special powers or influence.

11.  Feelings that there is something inherently evil or wrong with your baby.

 

All of the above symptoms may indicate a postpartum psychiatric disorder which is more than just stress related.  Such illnesses are felt to be hormonally related and/or caused by chemical imbalances or related to the enormous changes and stress that having a child produces.  A medical illness may also be causing or contributing to the above symptoms.  It is important to have an evaluation if you are experiencing any symptom which is disturbing to you or which is disturbing to those around you.

Inform your obstetrician or primary care physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above.  They will be able to refer you to a mental health specialist.  If you are experiencing any symptoms in the last section, you should be evaluated by a psychiatrist (medical doctor).  For other symptoms, an evaluation by a psychologist, psychotherapist or social worker is an important first step in treatment.

There are many myths surrounding motherhood.  Yes, it can be a wonderful and exciting time, but it can also be a time of extreme stress both physically and emotionally.  If you are having difficulties, it is important that you tell someone and seek help.  You are not alone.  Many women have experienced similar difficulties.  Treatment and help is available.

The following postpartum depression organizations may be able to provide further information or referral to specialists in your area:

 

Postpartum Support International, 927 North Kellogg Ave.  Santa Barbara, CA 93111  (805) 967-7636

Depression After Delivery, P.O. Box 1282, Morrisville, PA 19067  (215) 295-3994

 

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