The Differences Between the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

I am so excited to introduce you to Samantha Ferguson of Victoria Doulas today.  As you know, I am a mom of two - Mia, who is 6, and Knox, who is just 3 months old.  With the 5 year gap in between our kids, you tend to forget a lot!  Samantha has served as our postpartum doula and has been super helpful in navigating “mom life” as a mom of two.

Samantha is sharing about postpartum self-care, as well as the differences between the “baby blues” and postpartum depression.  These subjects are not talked about a ton and Samantha provides some amazing insight as a postpartum doula.

Samantha has three kids of her own, ages 8, 4, and 3.  She is the owner of Victoria Doulas and is a certified newborn specialist, labor doula, and postpartum doula.  She is also an infant massage instructor, which is one more way for Baby to bond with Mom.  She services families in Victoria and Corpus Christie, Texas.

I connected with Samantha as I was wanting to have a natural childbirth after my C-section.  She helped me prepare for a natural childbirth, as I had no idea what to expect since I didn’t not experience a natural childbirth with Mia.  She also helped us in the afterbirth experience, with postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, and all the things that a newborn baby brings, especially as a mom of two.  I cannot say enough great things about her work and the women that she serves.

Here is my interview with Samantha on what you should know about the baby blues, postpartum depression, and when you should seek help:

Do you think there is a definite difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?

Yes, generally a difference in timing AND symptoms.

Is there a timing difference in occurrence between the postpartum “baby blues” and postpartum depression?  For example, I actually didn't feel sad post baby until closer to 6-8 weeks.  I wouldn't have labeled myself depressed but I was definitely sad pretty often those 2 weeks.

Baby blues often sets in sometime around delivery, but is nearly nonexistent by 2 weeks post delivery. PMAD’s onset typically begins around 4-6 weeks post delivery, but can begin any time in the first year, which places the onset well after the flood of visitors and check-ins have subsided.

What are some of the common misconceptions you see when women are trying to self diagnose which one they have?

They believe that it cannot happen to them, or those who haven’t “given birth” (miscarriages, foster and adoptive parents, men) cannot experience PMADs, and often we feel like something is wrong with us for even feeling that way. We may assume we only need a change in diet, or exercise, or just more friends regardless of how severe the symptoms have become. “Working it out” can become cyclical if something isn’t working turns into guilt, which deepens feelings of inadequacy and raises severity of PMAD.

When should they seek medical care?

If a score of 10 or greater is the result of the Edinburgh test, if you (or someone close to you) feel like you should see someone as symptoms worsen, or if a caregiver expresses a thought or plan to harm self or baby.

Can you share with us some best practices for self-care postpartum?  Are there things we can do to shake off the blues?  Obviously if it's PPD it doesn't work that way and you can cover that as well.

Have a postpartum plan! Friends can organize meal trains, offer to help around the house in exchange for sweet baby snuggles, a postpartum doula can offer in-home care to help build confidence and efficiency as well as ensure sleep and self care needs are met. Recruit APPROPRIATE people to help. Exercise and eating whole, nutritious foods are wonderful; supplement if needed. Continue taking prenatals, visiting with friends, finding social groups open to babies in arms, create a Mom group on Meetup or through social media, go to the local YMCA for a two hour break, get 4-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep at least 2 nights per week.

How can my preggo friends and new Moms connect with you online or through social media?  Where can we find you?

Across social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) at Victoria Doulas, LLC and at victoriadoulas.com. I’m also one of many support professionals available for local mothers seeking support in this area in the Facebook group, “Pregnancy & Postpartum: Victoria, TX”

Additional Resources for Moms:

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (Postpartum Self-Assessment Tool):  https://psychology-tools.com/epds/

Virtual Therapist specializing in Perinatal Mental Health & Birth Trauma:

Dr Blythe TwoSisters
Mamapsychdoc.com
5445 Almeda Rd, Ste. 407

Postpartum Support International
Postpartum.net

FB Support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/25960478598/

Warmline: 1-800-944-4773 Calls answered or promptly returned 24/7 by a well-trained supportive volunteer who is often a survivor of a PMAD as well.

Sherry Duson’s Well Mom & Working Mom Checklists (excellent for self-assessment or if you aren’t sure how to ask open-ended, nonjudgmental questions):  http://www.cpfh.org/checklist.html