Pittsburgh Black Nurses in Action

Postpartum Depression Blog by Dr. Betty Braxter, RN

Posted almost 4 years ago by Christin Durham

Postpartum Depression by Dr. Betty Braxter, RN

     The birth of child is typically greeted with excitement and joy.  Following the birth, mothers hold their babies face-to-face to promote bonding and attachments, and for the pleasure of being near their newborns.  As a mother engages in stroking the baby across the cheek and back, talking directly to the baby, and commenting on family features the baby exhibits, the mother happily smiles and laughs.  For approximately 12.5% of new mothers, the smiling and laughing scenario described above does not exist due to postpartum depression. 

Postpartum Depression compared to Postpartum Blues

     Postpartum depression is a treatable mental health condition that usually occurs within the first month after birth.  No single cause of postpartum depression has been identified, but genetics (family history of postpartum depression) and hormonal changes (decrease in estrogen and progesterone level) may play a role.  Although new mothers are more vulnerable to experiencing postpartum depression, new fathers may also experience postpartum depression. The symptoms of postpartum depression last for more than a couple of days are a couple of weeks unlike the symptoms of postpartum blues. Symptoms of postpartum blues (e.g. insomnia, fatigue, loss of concentration) usually develop within the first couple of days following delivery and are resolved within about two weeks. By contrast, the symptoms of postpartum depression persist for more than two weeks. The symptoms of postpartum depression often mirror the symptoms for depression in addition to symptoms directly linked to newborn care. The symptoms include: 

  • Ongoing sadness or anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of helplessness, guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Crying more than usual
  • Feelings of anger
  • Worrying that you will hurt the baby
  • Feeling guilty and worrying about one’s ability to be a good mother


Postpartum Depression Risk Factors

     A number of risk factors have been linked to the development of the symptoms of postpartum depression.  The list of risk factors is below:

  • Previous history of depression
  • Family history of depression
  • Unintended/unwanted pregnancy
  • Difficult deliver
  • Breastfeeding difficulty
  • Single marital status
  • Poor social and financial support
  • Intimate partner violence

Time to contact a health care provider

If you have symptoms and have risk factors linked to postpartum depression, call your health care provider or a mental health profession.  Additionally, you may consider seeking support from a family member, friend, or a member of the faith community.  Contact a health care provider as soon as possible if the symptoms:

  • Persist after two weeks
  • Are getting worse
  • Make it difficult to care for the baby
  • Make it hard to complete daily tasks
  • Include thoughts of harming yourself or the baby

If you do consider harming yourself or the baby immediately reach out to: UPMC RESOLVE Crisis Center 24-hour hotline at: 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (796-822). Go to the crisis center.  The center does accept walk-in patients, and is located at: 333 North Braddock Ave. Pittsburgh, PA. 15208.

 Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.


Bauman B.L., Koy J.Y., Cox S., D’Angelo D., Warner L., Folger S., Tevendale H.D., Coy K.C.,Harrison L., & Barfield W. (2020, May 15). Postpartum depression symptoms and provider discussions about perinatal depression.  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Report, 69, 575-581. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6919a2externali con

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 4). Depression among women. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/

Mayo Clinic. (2018, September 1).  Postpartum depression. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-  20376617

Stoppler M.C. (2017, June 7). Postpartum depression: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.MedicineNet. https://www.medicinet.com/postpartum_depression.htm/what_are_postpartumdepression_and_peripartum_depression_are_there_types_of_peripartum_depression

Taylor ME.G. (2020, May 1). Everything dads to know about postpartum depression. Men’s Health. https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/everything-dads-need-to-know-about-postpartum- depression/ss-BBMhXFn



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