There is probably no experience more life-changing than giving birth. But new mothers go through some pretty major changes in their hormones, brain chemistry, and responsibilities.
As many as one in five new mothers struggle with postpartum depression.
It's really common for new mothers to have crying spells or mood swings in the first few weeks after their baby is born. They call it the "baby blues."
But when those feeling don't go away, new moms may be experiencing something deeper: postpartum depression. As Meredith McKenzie learned, it can happen to anyone.
After helping bring hundreds of babies into the world, labor and delivery nurse Meredith McKenzie felt like the luckiest woman on earth when she got pregnant with William.
"I would go around work, literally with my hand on my abdomen, because I was just so thrilled,” said Meredith McKenzie.
But when William was born, Meredith struggled to bond with her baby. And with no sleep, she was on edge all the time.
“Like, I couldn't just let it go. I could not let anything just go. I had to be very type A, I had to be very in control,” said McKenzie.
But she wasn't and during a checkup, she finally broke down. The diagnosis: postpartum depression.
“I feel like I should be saying, "Everything is okay! We're doing great! We're so bonded!" And, instead, I'm this bucket of tears,” said McKenzie.
"It doesn't matter how much education you have, how much money you have, how much support you have. It can affect every single one of us,” said Dr. Meera Garcia.
North Atlanta OBGYN Dr. Meera Garcia -- who went through her own post-partum depression -- says new moms go through major hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and a lot of pressure.
"If we find ourselves, after having children, crying a lot more or having anxiety complications, palpitations, heart is racing, can't sleep, even when you know it's time for you to sleep, then it might be time to see a doctor about your potentially having post partum depression,” said Garcia.
Both Dr. Garcia and Meredith say they were helped by an antidepressant.
"And medication is something that is available, that is safe, and that should not be considered dangerous to the baby,” said Garcia.
There are several antidepressants considered safe for breast feeding women. They're in a class of drugs called SSRI's. Some women will also benefit from talk therapy or a combination of medication and therapy. If you're a new mom and you're experiencing some of the symptoms Dr. Garcia talked about, talk to your Ob-Gyn or your primary care doctor.
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