Hey, New Moms: Lighten Up!

If you're a perfectionist, you'll probably get postpartum depression.

Hey, New Moms: Lighten Up!

If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll probably get postpartum depression.

-Jane Farrell

 A mother with her baby

Just had your baby? Don’t worry about what other people think of your mothering skills. Otherwise, you could end up a victim of the post-baby blues, and that’s a potentially fatal problem.

“Socially prescribed perfectionism” — i.e. you think other people expect you to be perfect — is linked to the serious condition known as post-partum depression, according to a new study cited on MSNBC. Postpartum depression, which occurs in up to 14 percent of new moms in the United States, is marked by sleeplessness, sadness, lack of interest in daily activities and thoughts of harming oneself or the new baby.

Researchers at York University in Toronto, where the study was conducted, said that the women they tested also dealt with their problem by pretending that everything was fine – perfect, in fact. Says Gordon Flatt, one of the researchers on the study, “They’re feeling quite badly but they’re pretty good at covering it up.”

The danger of that, he said, is that friends and family won’t realize what the new mother is going through. In the most extreme cases, victims of PPD can commit suicide.

Read How to Help a Friend Who’s Depressed

The long-term cure, Flett said: “It’s just important…to realize you don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to be absolutely the best parent in the world,” Flett said. “You need to just be able to… do your best, and your best is good enough.”

In the short term, Flett said, family and friends should ask new mothers how they really feel about their experience—not what they believe they’re supposed to feel. But if these perfectionistic mothers tend to hide their depression, how can friends and physicians identify that there’s a problem?

The key is to try to get new mothers to speak about their experience in realistic terms as opposed to just saying what they think people want to hear. MSNBC.

Jane Farrell is a senior editor for BettyConfidential.

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