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A topical approach to life span development, 6e chapter 3

The Postpartum Period
Chapter 3

Postpartum Period

Period after childbirth or delivery

About 6 weeks

Or until mothers body has completed its adjustment and returned to a nearly
prepregnant state

Adjustments are physical, emotional and psychological

Physical Adjustments


Can undermine ones sense of well being

And confidence to cope with a new baby and a new family life

Loss of sleep

Contributes to stress, marital conflict, and impaired decision making

Poor quality of sleep

Disrupted, fragmented sleep

Linked to postpartum depression

Hormone production drops

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments

Several weeks to long term emotional swings

Postpartum blues

70% of new mothers in US

2-3 days after birth, they feel depressed, anxious, and upset

May come and go for several months

Usually go away after one or two weeks

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments

Postpartum depression

Major depressive episode

Typically 4 weeks after delivery

Strong feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair

At least 2 weeks trouble coping with their daily tasks

Without treatment, can become worse and last for many months

10-14% of new mothers experience

Often do not seek help

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments

Postpartum depression risk factors

History of depression

depression and anxiety during pregnancy

Neuroticism - negative state of fear, anxiety, worry, frustration

Loss self-esteem

Postpartum blues

Poor marital relationship, low levels of social support

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments

Postpartum depression risk factors

Perinatal complications

Infant health and temperament

Type of delivery

Humoral changes

History of physical abuse

Migrant status

Postpartum physical complications

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments


Antidepressant drugs

Psychotherapy, especially cognitive therapy

Regular exercise

Emotional and Psychological Adjustments

Other concerns of postpartum depression

Interaction with baby difficulties

Care giving activities (feeding, sleep routines, safety practices)

Fathers may experience depression, jealousy

Study: higher support by fathers was related to a lower incidence of
depression in women


The formation of a physical connection between parents and baby... Early on
after birth

Research is mixed

Seems to be more beneficial/needed for mother than for baby

May help with improved integration after leaving the hospital

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