Dr. Mills held a captive audience as she discussed a wide range of topics related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Over 80 women gathered at Junior League of Austin headquarters to listen as Dr. Tara Mills, an ObGyn at Renaissance Women’s Group in North Austin, and Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, medical director of Texas Fertility Center, shared valuable information during a “So You Want To Start a Family?” educational program.

The postpartum period can feel very lonely.

Dr. Mills, the chair of the ObGyn department at North Austin Medical Center, used both her professional expertise as well as her personal experience as a mother to educate the audience on the changes that come after childbirth. Although the postpartum transition can seem overwhelming, “In my experience, it was all worth it,” she maintained.

The postpartum phase: what to expect, and what to look out for

Women whose bodies have recently been through childbirth respond in similar ways. Dr. Mills discussed these changes.

  • Physical manifestations, such as shivering, uterine involution, lochia, changes in cervical and vaginal shape, breast growth and tenderness, skin and hair shifts, and weight loss immediately take place.
  • Women will experience some pain, especially in the perineum, breasts, abdominal wall, or cesarean section incision.
  • Later on, mild sexual dysfunction or thyroid disorders are not uncommon.
  • “I see postpartum blues very commonly,” she said. These mimic mild depressive symptoms. Forty to 80 percent of new moms experience these side effects.

Normal postpartum blues manifest around two days after childbirth and peek after five. Symptoms usually diminish within two weeks, Dr. Mills said.

If symptoms continue long afterwards, increase with time, and begin to impair functionality, a new mother might be experiencing postpartum depression. Dr. Mills informed the audience of some vital information:

Patients who have a history of mental illness, had an unplanned pregnancy, have undergone recent stressful life events, are living without a partner, or have an inconsolable infant are at risk for developing postpartum depression.

“Why does it happen? That’s not well understood,” Dr. Mills explained. Studies show that hormones only play a minor role. Genetic susceptibility and major life events are contributing factors.

In order to diagnose postpartum depression, patients must have at least five clinical symptoms and undergo a screening called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

“Be open and honest,” Dr. Mills urged the women. “Get help, don’t keep it to yourself. Treatment works.”

Contact us for more information on postpartum depression and changes to expect after childbirth.

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