SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) — New mothers searching for help, in a world where nearly everything that happens in a hospital is shaped by COVID-19.
There are new challenges, ranging from postpartum pain to depression — and the stress of a pandemic makes things even more difficult.
“The number of patients that are experiencing postpartum depression has increased since the start of the pandemic, ” said Summerville Women’s Care OB-GYN, Dr. Andrew Futterman.
Medical experts say the omicron variant is forcing hospitals to make the difficult decision once again, who takes priority.
Dr. Futterman tells me in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, more and more women had to adjust to their new normal — lack of attention after childbirth and having to settle for virtual appointments.
“I think we see a lot of parallels between what patients might be experiencing at home with the feelings of isolation during the pandemic. And similarly in the exam rooms or even labor and delivery floors when their significant others aren’t able to be there and make them feel like they’re alone,” said Futterman.
Lately, people are confusing postpartum depression with the mental health stress of the pandemic.
According to Futterman, about 20% of patients will have depression before their postpartum depression develops. While about 40% will develop it during pregnancy, and the rest of the 40% can develop it postpartum.
Family history, social support, financial challenges, and hormones all play a part in postpartum mental health.
“I think especially maternal mental health can be misunderstood,” said Licensed Professional Counselor, Caroline Adams. “You know a lot of times you hear, ‘oh well you and the baby are healthy, so just sort of move on.’ Birth trauma, challenges with breastfeeding, and sleep deprivation, all play a role in our mental health.”
According to Adams, oftentimes women are left to cope with physical and emotional challenges on their own but having a supportive partner helps.
She describes the weeks after childbirth as a vulnerable and tender time. So some of the strategies that work in your relationship now, may not work with a crying baby.
Adams says having candid conversations about expectations with your partner in that new role can help. “You know, we can’t predict what that time will look like, but creating a plan around prioritizing each other’s needs.”
Adams works along Postpartum Support Charleston to help women adjust to motherhood.
“Sharing your truth with someone who’s going to understand, if that’s your partner, a friend, or someone who’s been through something similar, not being afraid to put what you’re experiencing into words,” said Adams.
Both Counselor Adams and Dr. Futterman say postpartum care should not be deferred.
If you or someone you know are experiencing postpartum depression, Postpartum Support Charleston has resources for you.