According to the American Psychological Association, about 1 in every 7 women experience PPD. This affects women of all walks of life. It can occur with a woman's first child or her fourth. It can appear in the weeks or even months after delivery.
Of course, dealing with PPD won't just affect mom. Her baby will likely face some consequences of her difficulties, as well. This alone should be encouragement for any mother facing this issue to talk to someone she trusts and get help if needed. No mother would ever want to negatively influence her child.
Postpartum depression can influence a woman's emotion well-being, her relationship with her baby, and even her baby's physical growth. Some of the more concerning effects can even put a mom and her baby in danger. These effects can impact a child for years to come.
Many women do not speak up or seek help because they don't want to be seen as weak or a bad mother. They worry about judgment from loved ones as well as medical professionals, though that should hardly be the case. Seeking help is a selfless act and a sign of strength. A healthy mother (emotionally and physically) is a better mother.
20 A More Difficult Relationship Between Mom and Baby
A baby's first interactions are with his mother. If mom has PPD, it can hinder her emotional reaction to her child and their budding relationship. According to Health.HowStuffWorks.com, a depressed mother is less intuitive about what her baby needs. This can stilt not only her relationship with her baby, but how baby views and reacts to the world.
A mom with PPD will experience many of the same symptoms as someone with clinical depression. She may have trouble bonding with her new baby emotionally, excessive worrying thoughts about baby, or even thoughts about harming herself or her baby.
19 Baby Lives With A Heightened Level Of Stress
Believe it or not babies experience stress just as adults do. Though the causes of their stress are likely far simpler, stress can still have a negative influence on a little one. Cortisol is baby's stress hormone according to Health.HowStuffWorks.com and measures baby's stress reactivity.
This reactivity is a survival instinct that all babies are born with. It is the response to something new, and to them the whole world is new. Mom's job is to forge a relationship and be a sort of safety in the newness. How mom interacts with baby will determine how baby handles other social reactions. A mom with PPD may not be as receptive to baby's needs which can cause future complications as well as not soothe a stressed out baby.
18 Baby Receives Less Attention and Affection
Attention and affection are extremely important in the first year of a child's life. A depressed mother may have trouble providing that for her baby though. Her depression preoccupies her mind and can seriously stilt the development of a proper bond or relationship with her little one. She may not be as apt to respond to a baby's cries or need for attention as she usually would.
According to MentalHealthAmerica.net, a mother with depression may not be as able to respond to her child's needs. This response is the attention that baby needs to develop a sense of security and attachment with mom. This original relationship and these interactions will influence baby's social relations for years to come.
17 Baby's Ability to Learn and Process Information is Slowed
Mom's PPD can impact more than baby's just emotional and social skills. It can affect baby's ability to learn and process new information as well. According to NCBI, a depressed mother would not be a good example for problem solving. She also wouldn't be very involved in helping her baby learn through play and interactions.
The relationship between baby and mother is a key one, and if it is not properly formed the impact can be serious. This relationship is where all of baby's first needs are met and attended to. This relationship is baby's first social interaction which will influence what baby learns about social relationships and reactions.
16 Baby's Brain Isn't Always Fully Stimulated
Baby's require necessary stimulation in order to learn. This stimulation is often in the form of care, emotional reactions, and facial expressions. They learn about how their needs are met when they cry. How their mother's face looks with various emotions and situations. According to WhatToExpect.com, some important forms of stimulation for a baby in the first month are making silly faces with baby and talking with him.
A baby requires attention and stimulation just as any other human being does. A depressed mother might unknowingly be neglectful of this stimulation and unable to meet these needs for her baby. While her baby might be taken care of, he still needs affection and play. That key role the mother plays in this stimulation can be hindered by her PPD. It's no easy feat to muster up the energy to do these things while going through depression and trying to keep afloat.
15 Baby's Growth Can Be Slowed
A mother's PPD can impact her baby's physical health. According to a study on Parents.com, a breastfed baby whose mother has PPD for two months or longer may gain lbs. slower than a baby of a mother without depression.
Breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging for some women. A depressed mother may have trouble seeking the help of a lactation consultant to figure out what's going on with a potential nursing problem. She may also not be eating right or enough, and those things can hinder a woman's milk supply. Proper nutrition can be difficult and not a priority when dealing with depression, but it is also essential for breastfeeding.
14 A Withdrawn Mom Affects Baby's Attention
PPD is very similar to clinical depression symptom-wise. It's likely mom is rather withdrawn. She likely doesn't show the necessary attention her baby seeks. According to Parents.com, moms with PPD are less likely to play or even make eye contact with their little one. This can cause baby to withdraw as well. He may stop reacting to other people. Silly faces and talking that would usually peak a baby's attention and arousal do not have the same effect.
Babies respond to affectionate tones, talking, and facial expressions. A lack of this interaction with mom will make these things unfamiliar to baby. When they happen (from mom later or other people) baby won't know what to do and won't be as reactive.
13 Baby May Struggle With Self-Esteem In The Future
According to Parents.com, a depressed parent is likely more critical and less motivating which can result in a child seeing themselves more negatively. With depression, it is more common for mom to be irritable and unhappy. Those moods won't be unnoticed by her little one and will likely rub off.
This negativity is something her child will pick up on and model themselves. Children learn from their parents so in a sense this unhappiness and negativity is how they think things should be. It's their normal. These are problems that no mom wants her child to have to bear. Seeing themselves negatively can have consequences for our child's self esteem and self worth.
12 The Child Could Have Trouble Handling Their Own Emotions
Emotions and moods are a part of life. They are plentiful for everyone, and something that we have to learn to deal with and handle. According to Parents.com a depressed mother is likely more irritable and easily frustrated. As a model to her children, they will pick up on this and imitate these behaviors.
Toddlerhood is a challenging time where we need to teach our little one how to handle the bountiful emotions bouncing around inside them. A toddler learns from his mother and the interactions he has with her. This will be a guiding factor in how he handles his own moods and emotions.
11 There Is Less Of A Bond Between Mom and Baby
A mother is often times baby's primary caretaker. Their relationship is the first and often strongest bond developed. However, if a woman has PPD, establishing this bond can be incredibly difficult.
According to NCBI there are two ways a mom with PPD interacts with her infant. She is either intrusive, negative, or rather hostile. The other interactions are more withdrawn. Mom isn't able to provide the necessary attention to her infant. She does not engage with her baby or respond properly.
For instance, it is important that mom responds to baby's cries for a clean diaper, feeding, or gas pains. Baby needs to know that mom will help figure out what's wrong. Baby also needs interactions with mom such as talking, smiling, and silly facial expressions.
10 Baby Can Show Signs of Anxiety
Babies are constantly observing, learning, and imitating. When mom has a postpartum disorder such as depression, it will influence how she interacts with her baby. A mom with PPD might lack the energy or drive to be playful and animated when talking to her child. Their relationship might lack the essential communication and attention that baby relies on to thrive. As a result, baby may become more anxious and whiny according to Parents.com.
A lack of eye contact can make baby withdraw. Engaging with babies is important. It may feel funny talking to someone who cannot talk back, but it is important for baby's development and emotional well-being.
9 Mom Has Trouble Being Around Baby
Bonding can be difficult for moms with PPD as stated on Parents.com. Some moms who have PPD may even have thoughts about harming their baby. This can make it particularly difficult to want to be around baby. They may also feel resentment towards their child or have trouble forming a bond. The unconditional love that some women feel at birth does not happen for all women. PPD can sometimes be a factor in this and makes it difficult to feel that love towards a little one.
Babies are difficult. There is colic, crying, and exhaustion involved in having a newborn. Many women get absorbed in motherhood and loss their sense of self. All of these things can have mom feeling the need to withdraw from her baby and not want to be near him.
8 Baby Develops A Self-Protective Style of Coping
A baby with a mother who has PPD may develop a style of coping that is self-protective and withdrawn according to NCBI. This coping is the result of the interactions baby has with its mother.
If a mother is irritable and resentful towards her baby, baby will pick up on that through their interactions. In order to protect himself from this negativity, baby will develop a style of coping that is withdrawn and not as responsive to his mom or other people. Baby may even display anger of his own because that is what he sees on his mom.
7 Displays Behavioral Issues In Childhood
A woman can experience PPD for quite some time, and the effects of it can impact her children for years to come as well. According to Parents.com, a toddler whose mother has/had PPD may have difficulty following instructions. As these kids age, they may also have other behavioral problems at school due to the lack of discipline at home. A depressed mother is likely critical of her children but forgets to be consistent with discipline.
Some children may act out because that is how they get their mother's attention. They may continue these behaviors outside of the home and in the classroom as well. Some children may act out or have behavioral issues because they were never taught how to properly handle their own moods and emotions.
6 Baby Has A Higher Chance Of Experiencing Depression in the Future
According to Healthline.com, a baby whose mother has PPD is seven times more likely to experience depression themselves at age 18. Depression is a mental illness that can impact men and women. People from all backgrounds and walks of life. There are certain factors which may make someone more likely to develop the disorder, but it affects all kinds of people.
Just because mom has PPD does not mean all or even any of her children will develop depression. One thing mom can do to lessen their chances may be to seek treatment immediately and ask for help.
5 Baby's Cognitive Development May Be Delayed
According to NCBI, a baby's cognitive performance might be lower due to mom's PPD. A mom with depression may have a harder time interacting with her child. This makes it hard for baby to learn key social skills and cognitive skills.
Cognitive skills for babies include things like facial recognition, wanting stimulation, and following things with their eyes. These skills grow to include curiosity and exploring their surroundings. If the attachment between mom and baby isn't properly formed, baby may be reluctant to explore or show interest in other things.
This delayed skills can continue on into childhood. Children might have trouble problem-solving, handling their emotions, and with language.
4 Baby is Withdrawn From Mom and Other People
Depression can do a lot of negative things to a person. If mom is irritable and angry towards her baby, it will change how baby reacts to her. Instead of the normal reaction, baby is likely to withdraw and turn away from mom as a way to keep out the negativity. Because this initial relationship influences how baby interacts with others, Parents.com suggests that baby might stop reacting to people at all.
This withdrawal is a way for baby to cope with a hostile mother and protect himself for that. Unfortunately baby cannot distinguish that not all people will have this negativity. Babies don't understand depression or that mom is sick.
3 Baby Has Trouble Engaging Socially
The way a mother interacts with her baby will influence baby's social skills with others. If mom is responsive to baby's needs, it will shape how baby reacts to other people. According to Psychcentral.com, a mother who is sensitive to her baby's needs will provide her baby with a greater social competence than one who is not.
A mom with depression may cause her baby to be withdrawn, baby would not be apt to interact with others. Babies prefer the familiar including familiar faces. Babies whose mothers have depression though may be withdrawn even from those who are familiar as a means of coping with mom's behavior.
2 Baby Has Trouble Handling Stress
Cortisol is the hormone that is released when baby is stressed. It is how baby's body reacts to a stressor. According to a study done on PsychCentral.com, having a sensitive mother reduced the amount of cortisol a baby released when stressed.
A depressed mother is not likely to be as sensitive or intuitive to what her baby needs though. This leaves baby living with a higher stress level and a higher physical response (release of cortisol) to stressors.
Handling negative emotions and situations put stress on a baby. Babies are also fairly intuitive with their mothers and often times sense and reflect mom's emotions.
1 Baby Develops Coping Skills That Are Not Ideal
The saying "monkey see, monkey do" can easily be applied to babies. They are constantly observing their world, and mom is a large part of that. They imitate much of what mom does and that includes her emotions.
According to NCBI, babies whose mothers have PPD develop a protective style of coping. They try to avoid mom's anger, sadness, and other negativity. Some babies start to thumb suck. Some turn away from others. Some become withdrawn and passive. All of these things are done as a means to cope with the stress they are experiencing.
These coping skills continue well into toddlerhood and childhood. The emotions continue to swirl for a tot who has no one to teach him who to properly handle them. Some resort to mimicking angry behaviors.
Sources: APA, How, Healthline, NCBI, PsychCentral, MentalHealth, WhatToExpect, Parents