Assistance available for new moms in need

While many women feel a sense of elation throughout their pregnancy, for some women, the periods before, during and after pregnancy are anything but happy.

According to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, most new mothers – up to 80 percent – experience at least a brief episode of the “baby blues” – feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or moodiness – within the first few days of giving birth. After a couple of weeks these symptoms typically disappear.

However, when symptoms persist or deepen in intensity, they may be a sign of postpartum depression or another perinatal mood disorder.

Perinatal mood disorders (PMD) include anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorders and postpartum depression. The depression may be mild, moderate or severe.

PMD are serious but treatable. Having a PMD does not mean anything is wrong with a woman’s ability to be a mother, according to the press release.

PMD affect one in every eight to 10 women, but many people do not know the facts. Any woman who has recently had a baby, ended a pregnancy, or who has stopped breast-feeding, can be affected by PMD. The disorders usually occur within the first year after childbirth, miscarriage or stillbirth, but the signs of depression can also appear earlier – when a woman is pregnant, or even planning to be.

While the exact cause is unknown, contributing factors may be biological, psychological or hormonal. According to the press release, family members can play an important role by recognizing the warning signs of perinatal mood disorders, helping the woman seek help and providing support.


he warning signs are different for

everyone but may include trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, changes in appetite, feeling irritable, angry or nervous, feeling exhausted, not enjoying life as much as in the past, lack of interest in the baby, friends, and family, lack of interest in sex, feeling guilty or worthless or hopeless, crying uncontrollably, trouble concentrating, and hyper-vigilance (extreme concern about the baby’s care and/or health).

A woman’s obstetrician, family physician and pediatrician can all be effective starting points for assessment and referral for treatment.

Women affected by perinatal mood disorders may contact the Regional Perinatal Consortium at 732-363-5400 for more information.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services provides a statewide perinatal mood disorder helpline (1-800- 328-3838), as well as a comprehensive informational website at