1 in 7 women will get a Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder. Symptoms can occur in pregnancy or as early as 2 weeks postpartum and anytime within the first year.
- Are you crying unexpectedly or are you frequently near tears?
- Do little things excessively irritate you?
- Do you get anxious or panicky at times?
- Do you have trouble sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping?
- Are you feeling distant or removed from your baby or partner? Or having trouble bonding with your baby?
- Has your appetite changed?
- Having obsessive or recurrent thoughts that are frightening?
- Having thoughts of harming yourself or your newborn?
If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, you may be experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Call:
- Sharp Mary Birch Postpartum Depression Support Group: 858-939-4133
- San Diego Postpartum Health Alliance: 619-254-0023
- Postpartum Support International: 1-800-944-4773
If you have additional questions, please call San Diego Perinatal Center: 858-966-4963
If you have any thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or your baby, please go to the closest Emergency Department.
This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression
By Karen Kleiman, MSW and Valerie Raskin, MD
Life Will Never Be The Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide
By Ann Dunnewold, PhD and Diane Sanford, PhD
What Am I Thinking? Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression
By Karen Kleiman, MSW
Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping With Infertility
By Janet Jaffe, PhD, Martha Diamond, PhD and David Diamond, PhD
(cited from the March of Dimes website)
Abuse, whether emotional or physical, is never okay. Unfortunately, some women experience abuse from a partner. Abuse crosses all racial, ethnic and economic lines. Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (also called ACOG) says that 1 in 6 abused women is first abused during pregnancy. More than 320,000 women are abused by their partners during pregnancy each year.
What is abuse?
Abuse can come in many forms. An abusive partner may cause emotional pain by calling you names or constantly blaming you for something you haven’t done. An abuser may try to control your behavior by not allowing you to see your family and friends, or by always telling you what you should be doing. Emotional abuse may lead you to feel scared or depressed, eat unhealthy foods, or pick up bad habits such as smoking or drinking.
An abusive partner may try to hurt your body. This physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, pushing or even pulling your hair. Sometimes, an abuser will aim these blows at a pregnant woman’s belly. This kind of violence not only can harm you, but it also can put your unborn baby in grave danger. During pregnancy, physical abuse can lead to miscarriage and vaginal bleeding. It can cause your baby to be born too soon, have low birthweight or physical injuries.
What can trigger abuse during pregnancy?
For many families, pregnancy can bring about feelings of stress, which is normal. But it’s not okay for your partner to react violently to stress. Some partners become abusive during pregnancy because they feel:
- Upset because this was an unplanned pregnancy
- Stressed at the thought of financially supporting a first baby or another baby
- Jealous that your attention may shift from your partner to your new baby, or to a new relationship
How do you know if you’re in an abusive relationship?
It’s common for couples to argue now and then. But violence and emotional abuse are different from the minor conflicts that couples have.
- Does my partner always put me down and make me feel bad about myself?
- Has my partner caused harm or pain to my body?
- Does my partner threaten me, the baby, my other children or himself?
- Does my partner blame me for his actions? Does he tell me it’s my own fault he hit me?
- Is my partner becoming more violent as time goes on?
- Has my partner promised never to hurt me again, but still does?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an unhealthy relationship.
What can you do?
Recognize that you are in an abusive relationship. Once you realize this, you’ve made the first step towards help. There are lots of things you can do.
Tell someone you trust. This can be a friend, a clergy member, a health care provider or counselor. Once you’ve confided in them, they might be able to put you in touch with a crisis hotline, domestic violence program, legal-aid service, or a shelter or safe haven for abused women.
Have a plan for your safety. This can include:
- Learn the phone number of your local police department and health care provider’s office in case your partner hurts you. Call 911 if you need immediate medical attention. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police or medical record should you choose to file charges against the abuser.
- Find a safe place. Talk to a trusted friend, neighbor or family member that you can stay with, no matter what time of day or night, to ensure your safety.
- Put together some extra cash and any important documents or items you might need, such as a driver’s license, health insurance cards, a checkbook, bank account information, Social Security cards and prescription medications. Have these items in one safe place so you can take them with you quickly.
- Pack a suitcase with toiletries, an extra change of clothes for you and your children, and an extra set of house and car keys. Give the suitcase to someone you trust who can hold it for you safely.
- National domestic violence hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or (800) 787-3224 TTY
Perinatal Loss Support
The loss of a pregnancy, infant, or child can be devastating and brings unimaginable pain and loss. The following resources may be helpful for you:
The Elizabeth Hospice:
Empty Cradle Support Group:
Empty Cradle is a peer support group for parents who have experienced the loss of their baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, TFMR, infant death, SIDS or SUID. Our goal is to offer bereaved families support via a resource parent network, through monthly meetings, written materials and partnership with the health care community. Visit Emptycradle.org for more information.