July 8, 2010

Perfectionist moms at greater risk for postpartum depression

An article came out yesterday on LiveScience.com reporting on a recent study that suggests perfectionism can put a new mom at risk for postpartum depression. I don't necessarily find this surprising. When I was a new mom, naturally I wanted everything to be perfect, and I totally bought into the Hallmark image of a glowing postpartum where I appeared blissful with my precious new bundles of joy while my pregnancy weight miraculously melted away.

Of course, things were far from perfect after my first pregnancy and I had absolutely no sense of control over anything that was happening. I had one baby barely hanging on in NICU, premature by three months and weighing only two pounds, and had to bury his twin brother a few days after their birth. On top of everything, only four months into my postpartum, I was stunned to find myself pregnant again.

So this article cites the study and states that: The link between perfectionism and postpartum depression was strongest amongst those who try to deal with perfectionism by appearing as if they don't have a problem.

I'm certain that I buried my depression while I was pregnant the second time around because I was terrified that the pregnancy would end up like the first. And I imagine I was still in shock from the horrible way my first pregnancy had turned out. I don't know that I was necessarily trying to deal with my perfectionism by appearing as if I wasn't suffering -- I think I was merely trying to survive an unbearable situation.

In any case, I think it's easy for new moms to fall into the perfectionism trap. Because it is definitely a trap. I've never known a mom who had it all together right after giving birth. Maybe there are some perfect moms out there, but I have yet to meet one. (Thank goodness, or that would seriously be reason to get depressed....) ;)

I think this study is interesting, although not rocket science. It would probably be worthy of being included in the "what to expect" handouts that OB's give out to prepare first-time moms. To check out the article, you can click here.


Jan said...

Perfection is never attainable here on earth. Yet so many of us Mums all try to attain it.

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