Debbie came to see me for a check up with Rebecca, her six-month-old daughter. Though I do not provide prenatal care, I had seen this mother a number of times during her pregnancy. She described herself as "a worrier” and wanted to discuss with me the things she was worried about or the things she might find worrisome in the future. I realized that Debbie was at significant risk for post-partum depression and wanted to keep a close eye on her when the baby was born.
I meet Rebecca when she was only a few days old. She had newborn jaundice and was struggling to wake up to nurse. Debbie was determined to succeed with breastfeeding so was open to any ideas which might help. From my first visit with Rebecca, I focused on helping Debbie tune into what “Rebecca is telling us.” Debbie and I watched together as Rebecca “told us” about her sleep cycles and how she could be aroused from active/light sleep but not quiet/deep sleep. (See http://www.hugyourbaby.com/sleeping.html to tell sleep cycles apart) Debbie learned to read her daughter’s SOSs (Signs of Over-Stimulation) and to tell when Rebecca needed a rest or could handle more interaction and play. (See http://www.hugyourbaby.com/skills.html for tips on SOSs)
Debbie taught me something very important. The more a mom learns to read her baby’s body language, the less she will worry. This mother, who had worried and suffered much during her pregnancy, never did develop post-partum depression. Instead, she learned to read her daughter's "body talk," and she gained confidence as a mom while learning to do so. At our last visit Debbie summed it up this way: “I worried a lot when she was inside of me. It’s easier to have her on the outside telling me just how she is doing.” And, Rebecca seemed to say, “Gee, Mom, I’m doing great!”