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Stress and postpartum depression

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Postpartum depression and birth.
  3. Other Stressors.
  4. Drug abuse of various sorts.
  5. Implications for healthcare.

Many women experience some mood changes after childbirth. The mild form of mood alteration experienced by two-thirds of mothers following the birth of a child is commonly known as postpartum blues. This is a mild, transient change in mood which usually begins within one to five days following delivery, lasts a few days to a couple of weeks, and does not require treatment. True depression is different from postpartum blues. The potentially severe depression that can occur following both childbirth and unsuccessful pregnancies, including spontaneous and voluntary abortions, is known as postpartum depression. Women may have difficulty in distinguishing where postpartum blues end and postpartum depression begins, because new mothers are often sleep-deprived, fatigued, and preoccupied with the constant care of their newborn and may not initially note the progression of their symptoms from mild to severe.

[...] The investigators concluded that the response was similar to that associated with posttraumatic stress response flashbacks and reflected a neurological kindling triggered by the normative events of childbearing. (p. 55) Mason et al (2005)'s own study found a correlation between prior abuse of the mother and cognitions which led to stress reactions. Hospitalization was mentally associated with victimization and a loss of control, as was the pain of labor and the birthing process. The daily struggle of raising a new infant led them to feel isolated and without support networks. [...]


[...] The implications for healthcare are perhaps clearer than the exact influence stress has on postpartum depression: a multidisciplinary, holistic view of postpartum depression is needed. Postpartum depression and birth Postpartum depression is a disorder that actually directly impacts not only the mother, but the infant. Birth is a catalyst for postpartum depression, but the relationship between the birth process and infant health is not always clear. Conway and Kennedy (2004) ask: "Ample evidence exists in the medical literature that maternal depression is associated with poor infant and child health and development. [...]


[...] Psycho educational interventions are useful in that many mothers with postpartum depression do not feel a "connection" with their infant, and may be misunderstanding or not perceiving signals and communicative acts from their children. Development education can allow for the mother to feel more in control of the child-rearing process. All of these can serve to mitigate the impact stressors have on new mothers, and lower the rates of postpartum depression. WORKS CITED Chatterji, P & Markowitz, S (2005) "Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?" Southern Economic Journal 16-30. [...]

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