Mothers & Families

Perinatal psychiatric disorders include all mental health conditions during pregnancy and up to one year after delivery. Depression and anxiety are common for pregnant and postpartum women – the most common complication of childbirth! About 1 out of every 7 women will experience a perinatal mental health condition.

Pregnancy and having a baby will effect a woman’s mood and feelings naturally. Most women will feel more tired, moody and irritable. If these feelings start to interfere with your everyday activities or last for more than a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor.

Having a baby is an emotional time in a woman’s life. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling with pregnancy and with new baby at home. The Periscope Project is a resource for your doctor.

Types of Perinatal Behavioral Health Conditions

What are baby blues?

A common, temporary phenomenon with prominent mood swings in the immediate postpartum period. About 80% of women experience baby blues – it is normal! The baby blues typically come in the first week following delivery and last no more than two weeks. Signs of baby blues may include tearfulness, excessive worrying, mood swings, irritability, difficulty sleeping or changes in appetite. Typically, baby blues will resolve naturally. If you are experiencing these types of symptoms, consider a new parent support groups, ask for help and remember to take care of yourself and as well as your baby.

What is perinatal depression?

An episode of major depression occurring during pregnancy and/or up to one year postpartum. Perinatal depression is common, effecting about 1 out of 7 women. If untreated, it could persist until properly treated. Symptoms may include depressed mood, loss of interests in most or all activities, changes in sleep habits, excessive guilt or worry, impaired concentration, recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor and seek treatment. In addition to talking to your doctor, considering a new parent support group, talk to your friends and family, ask for help and remember to take care of yourself.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the national suicide hotline, anytime of the day 1-800-273-8255.

What is perinatal anxiety?

Perinatal anxiety is a spectrum of several types of anxiety disorder that occur during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. It is estimated that 8.5-13% of women will experience an anxiety spectrum disorder during the postpartum period. Symptoms may include persistent and excessive worrying, inability to relax and/or physiological symptoms like chest pain, dizziness or inability to catch breath. If you are feeling anxious, talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. They might recommend therapy, medicine and/or support groups. As with all perinatal behavioral health conditions, make sure to take care of yourself and ask for help when needed.

The Periscope Project is a program of the Medical College of Wisconsin – Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, made possible through the financial support of the United Health Foundation for the Project’s launch.