Postpartum depression and the baby blues First off, it is critical to differentiate between just having the ‘baby blues’ during the adjustment period after having twins, from the really serious postpartum depression or postpartum mood disorders, because the results can be devastating for the whole family.
If ignored, they can take a huge toll on the mother, disrupt or ruin mother-baby attachments, or cause a crisis in a marriage. Early diagnosis can prevent months of sorrow.
Following the birth of twins, all mothers will go through the normal rollercoaster ride of ups and downs as they adjust to their new roles as parents of two newborn infants. This can be referred to as the baby blues, where on and off you experience symptoms of depression, sadness, anxiety and irritability. All totally normal especially when you factor in the sleep-deprivation and hormonal changes following giving birth. You may burst into tears , have trouble sleeping, or worry that you can’t handle it. These ‘blues’ usually come within a few days of having your babies, and usually will pass within a few weeks as you adjust.
Postpartum Depression or PPD
Postpartum Depression PPD
Research seems to indicate that mothers of multiples are at a higher risk for developing postpartum depression. Depression is caused by some changes in brain chemistry, other factors are multiplied for twin mothers. Stress of childcare, huge changes in routines and lifestyles, sleep deprivation and a lack of social supports can play a role. If there is a history of depression anywhere in the mother’s history , that can factor in as a higher risk as well.
PPD is not the same as the postpartum blues because it doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks. It can last for weeks or months and occasionally can show up even a year after the babies births.
The signs are similar to the baby blues but much more severe. They also occur almost every day , not just here and there. Some of the symptoms may be:
– crying easily or having emotional outbursts
– difficulty sleeping even when the babies are asleep
– sleeping too much and not wanting to get up
– loss of energy or motivation to do anything
– either overeating or a total lack of appetite
– a loss of enjoyment with the babies or in any fun activities
– feeling like you are in a ‘fog’, difficulties concentrating
– intense negative feelings of loneliness,emptiness, feeling worthless, incapable, guilty, insecure, anxious or a feeling of ‘losing it- going crazy’
– starting to have obsessive thoughts and ideas of harming yourself or hurting the babies or others
Mothers who are going through postpartum depression may be able to appear ok as they go through the motions of feeding, bathing, and caring for their babies. Inside though, they are feeling completely detached and unable to love and feel emotions towards their twins.
Postpartum Onset Panic Disorder
This is when you experience sudden episodes of extreme panic and anxiety , apprehension or fear that may bring about what’s known as a panic attack. This condition usually shows up a month or so after having the babies. Again , if you were prone to having anxiety attacks before, then you are at a higher risk of this disorder. You can also experience this in conjunction with PPD.
During a panic attack you may feel your heart start to race, chest tightens , your hands may shake or feel numb and tingly. You may have sweating or chills and an upset stomach. You can feel dizzy or lightheaded and feel an ‘unreal’ sensation, like you are losing control or think you are dying. These are not fun and can be very scary. They tend to last a few minutes to an hour and can vary in intensity and frequency.
If you’re a mother experiencing postpartum OCD, you may find inappropriate thoughts or images intruding into your mind. These may in turn cause anxiety when you try to ignore them or make them go away. To minimize the anxiety you may find yourself repeating certain behaviors or mental acts like counting or rocking, or turning off light switches. While any obsessive thoughts can be scary the most terrifying is the one that involves thoughts or images about hurting yourself or the babies. Although these actions are rarely carried through, you may find yourself feeling panicked at being left alone with the babies or extremely overprotective of them. Please read the information here on Shaken Baby Syndrome
Finding Help ASAP
Most mothers instinctively know that something is wrong – even shortly after giving birth . It is common to feel something is not right, but then to not want to talk about it or seek help – thinking it will pass. Some women find that when they do tell a friend or family member that their concerns are dismissed as the blues. You may be scared to tell anyone for fear of what they’ll think or that you’re children could be taken away. Usually though – the ‘gut’ feeling that you have inside is strong enough to let you know you need to do something . Talk to your doctor. If you’re husband or friends are telling you that you’re fine and you know that you are not, go to your doctor.
You may be referred to a mental health provider, a support group for women with postpartum depression or a therapist. Sometimes medication is necessary to fix the brain chemistry and there are some available where you can continue tobreastfeed while taking them. Ask your doctor or lactation consultant if this is important to you .
Don’t be scared to get help if you feel you need it – get it today – you deserve to be feeing your best and the earlier you seek help, the faster you will be on the road to recovery.