Thursday, 07 Nov 2013
Do Women with PPD Harm Their Babies?

Depressed mothers often worry that they might do this, but it is rare. Occasionally, through utter tiredness and desperation, you might feel like hitting or shaking your baby. Many mothers (and fathers) occasionally feel like this, not just those with PPD. In spite of having these feelings at times, most mothers never act on them. The problem is more likely to be a crippling worry that you might harm your baby. If you do feel like this, tell someone. Your doctor will be able to help.  Frequently women with a postpartum mood disorder will have intrusive thoughts of hurting their baby or another person.  This is common.  What is uncommon is actually acting on it.

Most of the horror stories that make it to the national news media involve mothers who have suffered from Postpartum Psychosis.  Generally speaking, women with Postpartum Psychosis are not browsing the internet looking for help.  They have lost touch with reality and are suffering from a psychotic break.  It affects between one and two women per 1,000 women who have given birth.

Signs of postpartum psychosis include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Illogical thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Refusing to eat
  • Extreme feelings of anxiety and agitation
  • Periods of delirium or mania
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts


Women with a personal history of psychosis, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia have an increased risk of developing postpartum psychosis. Likewise, women who have a family history of psychosis, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia have a greater chance of developing the disorder. Additonally, women who have had had a past incidence of postpartum psychosis are between 20% and 50% more likely of experiencing it again in a future pregnancy.

If you suspect that a loved one has postpartum psychosis, get help immediately.  Do not wait a week for an already scheduled appointment with a medical health professional.  Go to a hospital emergency room right away.