Having your first child can change everything, from your financial situation to your mental health. Being a parent can be joyful and exciting. But welcoming an infant into your home can also bring new strains into your life, making it hard to deal with everyday stresses. Add to that the medical and hormonal changes that postpartum mothers experience after pregnancy and becoming a new parent can push you over the edge into a mental health crisis. Postpartum therapy for new parents (mothers and fathers) can help to manage these challenges and get your family started off right.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Most new mothers experience a brief period of postpartum emotions in the days after childbirth. Mood swings, crying, anxiety, and trouble sleeping can start within the first few days after delivery and extend for two weeks. However, some new mothers experience peripartum or postpartum depression – a more severe, long-lasting form of depression – during pregnancy and in the time after childbirth. This postpartum depression may last more than 2 weeks and include:

  • Severe sadness, worry, or anxiety
  • Fears about the baby’s health or safety
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Mood swings and crying spells
  • Anger and irritability
  • “Brain fog”
  • Problems with decision-making
  • Sleep challenges
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Guilt, shame, and doubt around parenting
  • Problems bonding with the newborn child
  • Psychosis (in rare and extreme cases)

Often, these postpartum mental health challenges are triggered by hormonal and physical shifts related to the pregnancy and childbirth itself.

Get Help with Postpartum Depression Today.

Talk to a psychotherapist about the strain and sadness of being a new parent today.


Can Fathers Experience Postpartum Mental Health Problems?

Mental health challenges aren’t limited to the parent giving birth. Fathers, adoptive parents, and intended parents in surrogate arrangements can also experience perinatal or postpartum depression. These challenges are often more closely tied to changes in the household – including sleep patterns, dietary habits, and schedules – rather than the biological aspects of being a parent. But that doesn’t mean that fathers’ postpartum depression is any less real or valid than mothers. Depressed fathers may experience:

  • Doubts about parenting ability
  • Irritability, anger, and aggression
  • Withholding support from their partners
  • Discouraging breastfeeding or parent-infant bonds

The multi-faceted changes that come with adding a child to your household can trigger or exasperate any parent’s mental health challenges, regardless of gender.

Postpartum Grief is Especially Hard to Deal With

Parenthood is hard enough, but when a pregnancy results in severe complications, infant disability, or even miscarriage or still-birth, grief can add to the strain, raising acute mental health concerns. The unexpected loss of a child is one of the hardest things for parents to bear. When that death or severe disability comes on the heels of the strain and biological effects of a difficult pregnancy, it can easily cause you to experience mental health symptoms even if you haven’t before.

Anyone who loses a child should seek out support while handling your loss. There is a temptation to withdraw from the world and protect yourself from painful questions asked by well-meaning family and friends. However, isolation during this critical period can cause mental health symptoms to escalate, even without you realizing it. While it is perfectly appropriate to protect your privacy and take time and space to yourself to heal, you should also check in with your support network, allowing them to watch over you and your mental health.

How Postpartum Therapy for New Parents Helps with Transitions

The transition to parenthood can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with a psychotherapist to receive short-term postpartum therapy can help new parents make a healthy transition into motherhood and fatherhood. Postpartum therapy can provide a safe place for new parents to express their thoughts, and their doubts, about parenthood. A psychotherapist can provide validation and empathy for your struggles, and coping strategies to deal with the mental health challenges that come with being a new parent. Your psychotherapist can also connect you with additional resources and services to help you deal with the new challenges you are facing.

While some parents use short-term therapy immediately after the child’s birth, others benefit from ongoing therapy to learn parenting skills and enhance their parent-child bond. A psychotherapist can help you understand your baby’s developmental needs and make choices for age-appropriate activities that will promote healthy attachment and nurturing as your child grows up. Committing to these practices early in your child’s life can set you up for success as a parent, and help you connect with your new child on a deeper, healthier level.

David Stanislaw is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience. He provides individuals and couples with short-term and ongoing therapy to deal with postpartum depression and other mental health challenges that come with parenting. Contact David Stanislaw to get help today.