Motherhood can be hard for military moms with postpartum depression (PPD), especially those who juggle a demanding career while parenting. You might wonder how you’ll manage your new parenting responsibilities with work. The good news is support is available, so you don’t have to struggle alone.
PPD affects nearly 15% of all women who give birth. While some moms might have the “baby blues” shortly after childbirth, others can experience more severe PPD that lasts much longer. You might feel worthless, lose interest in your baby, or eat and sleep too much or too little. Moms with PPD also can have memory problems, doubt their mothering skills, or lose pleasure in activities they once enjoyed.
Being a pregnant Service Member can be challenging too. You often have to manage long work hours throughout your pregnancy. And some expectant moms choose to keep their pregnancy-related emotions “in check,” fearing negative reactions from coworkers. Enlisted female Service Members also tend to be younger and have less support. Some might have unplanned pregnancies. You’re also at increased risk of PPD if you have a history of depression, marital problems, stress, or a very fussy baby.
PPD might be preventable if you know the warning signs and where to get help. There are many useful resources—including health care, breastfeeding support, and childcare—to help you cope. And check with your installation about new parent support programs and other health and wellness activities offered through Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs. Military moms now get 12 weeks of paid parental leave, so use this time to take care of your baby and yourself.
Seek military and family life counseling to improve your mental health and well-being too.