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Postpartum Depression

Birth Trauma and PPD?
By Karen Kleiman, MSW
Karen KleimanQ. I just gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. I had a very traumatic labor. I don't know if this has anything to do with what's going on with me or not. Four days after birth, I began to cry uncontrollably at the thought of my husband returning to work the next day; I just didn't want him to leave my side. When I'm here alone, I cry and I feel so sad and lonely. I'm extremely happy with my baby, and it's only when I'm taking care of her or tending to housework that I'm not sad and crying. Is this PPD?

A. Congratulations on your new baby!

First of all, birth-related trauma can potentially cause postpartum problems, often in the form of emotional vulnerability, so it doesn't surprise me that you'd be feeling bad after a difficult delivery. It's important that you talk about this, in a safe place where you will not be judged, and discuss the details of what took place, what didn't take place, what surprised you, what you didn't expect, how you were disappointed, etc. This process of "debriefing" is critical in terms of your healing. If you don't think you can adequately take care of that with a support person at home, I'd think about talking with a good therapist about it. Sometimes, just a couple of sessions can help enormously.

Also, if you continue to be concerned about the way you are feeling, it's time to talk with your doctor. You are describing several symptoms of PPD: crying, feeling lonely, fear of husband going to work, fear of being alone, not eating, not sleeping. That doesn't mean you have PPD; it just means you are at risk and it's important for you to take care of yourself. You might want to look at my book for more information and support. Then talk with your doctor. Remember to try to eat and rest as much as you can during these early weeks. Some of this *might* get better on its own as your hormones level out. But keep an eye on how you are feeling and don't wait too long before you take care of this.

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