by: Kimberly C. Bowman

Life really does pile it on thick sometimes. Like when your baby is four weeks old, the month has gone by in a flash, and now you are supposed to leave her in two weeks to go back to work. Or when your mother has left and the house is a disaster and you cannot remember how to do anything. Now you are a parent for the third time. The five-year-old wants a play-date, the three-year-old is screaming for lunch, as is the three-week-old and of course, you are lunch. It is 5:40pm, no laundry has been done and it has just occurred to you that you only have two hands. No dinner has been planned and you are still in your pajamas. Will you spend the rest of your life in your pajamas?

Babies and children and husbands and life can be overwhelming. While we are physiologically equipped to deal with a million things going on around us all at once, it does not mean that we always can. Recognizing when you may be experiencing post-partum depression is important for you and for your family.

Within the first few days after birth, many moms experience the baby blues. These are common and typically dwindle as you recover from giving birth and the emotional and physical toll that comes along with it. The sense of being overwhelmed may persist but you will be able to cope.

Post-partum depression is characterized by overwhelming, persistent feelings of sadness beyond the first two weeks after baby arrives. Other signs include a lack of attachment with the newborn and/or not wanting to hold the baby or taking any pleasure in the baby.

At any time you experience feelings like the ones described above, talk to your doctor and let your partner in on how you are feeling. Before giving birth, make sure those close to you know the signs of post-partum depression as well. It is important to have advocates for your health besides yourself.

The important thing to remember is that like so many other aspects of parenting and life in general, post-partum depression is not a permanent condition. By seeking help quickly, you will hasten the departure of its weight on your shoulders and be able to enjoy the magic of those first few weeks.