Postpartum Depression and Winter Babies

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As many as three out of every four women will experience the short-term mood swings known as the “baby blues” after their baby is born. But nearly 12% experience more serious and longer-lasting postpartum depression.

How can you tell the difference between the normal mood changes that will abate, and those that could mean depression and a need for treatment? How can you manage postpartum emotions — whether it’s the baby blues or true sleep in the car. If it’s a cold but sunny day, you can keep baby toasty with a car-seat wrap like the Bundle Me, and get some sun through the car window while listening to your favorite radio station.

  • On days when you just can’t get out, stay connected online.
  • Says Stotland: “Both of my daughters are in online groups with moms from their neighborhood. Even if you can’t get out to meet them, you can chat or email and support each other.”

    When Depression Persists in Winter: Try a Little Light

    If the season is really weighing you down, you might benefit from physician-prescribed light therapy.

    “Light box therapy has been studied for use in pregnancy-related depression, and it’s a reasonable option,” says Dorothy Sit, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Women who may want to opt for non-drug options based on personal preferences should ask their doctor about light therapy.”

    “Whenever we see exacerbation of an otherwise nonseasonal depression in winter, light therapy can be extremely helpful,” notes Michael Terman, PhD, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center. He has created personalized online guidelines for self-administration of light therapy, available online.

    If you do have postpartum depression, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and there’s nothing “wrong” with you, says Stotland.

    “People tend to think you’re ungrateful when you have postpartum depression, because you have this healthy baby,” she says. “It’s a wonderful thing to have a healthy baby, but when you have depression, you don’t feel fortunate, especially when the world is telling you how happy you should be.”

    Seeking help, she says, can allow you to enjoy yourself and your baby the way you always wanted to.