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Perfectionist moms at greater risk for postpartum depression

Posted Jul 08 2010 9:42pm
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 .


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