Postpartum Depression: When Infants Fail To Thrive
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Postpartum Depression: When Infants Fail To Thrive

By Alan B. Densky, CH

Many people perceive postpartum depression as an illness affecting only the mother. The entire family experiences relationship changes that alter family dynamics drastically. The baby is especially at risk. Effective treatments, however, are available.


Many people perceive postpartum depression as an illness affecting only the mother. Unfortunately, this is not true. The entire family experiences relationship changes that alter family dynamics drastically. Depressed mothers who do not seek treatment often place their infants at risk for serious or fatal delays in growth and development.

The medical term for this complex problem is nonorganic failure to thrive. Nonorganic means that there is no medical cause for the infant's delays. Because of the mother's postpartum depression, she often stops meeting the baby's nutritional and emotional needs. Although the baby may cry for food at first, he or she often loses interest and stops interacting with other people. This disorder can result in malnutrition, starvation, and even death. 

Doctors use growth charts to track a baby's physical growth in height, weight, and head size. If the baby is healthy at birth, his or her size will be within the normal range on the growth charts. If the baby begins to experience serious growth delays, this will be apparent by comparing his or her progress with normal growth charts. Once the baby's growth is below the fifth percentile, doctors become seriously concerned.

Other symptoms may become evident before the baby's growth problems reach this critical point. Most infants who grow normally are curious about their surroundings. In contrast, infants who fail to thrive have little or no interest in their environment. These babies do not usually make sounds or words; they have stopped trying to respond to their caregivers.

How serious is failure to thrive? If untreated, a child can starve to death. Even if the baby grows enough to remain alive, his or her heart, lungs, and brain cannot develop properly. Furthermore, even if they are treated, these children never "catch up" completely. They often develop social problems or eating disorders, even after they begin to have their needs met. 

Infants diagnosed with failure to thrive often become critically ill from malnutrition. They are often hospitalized for weeks or months. Sometimes, they become so weakened that feeding from a bottle is too tiring. They receive feedings via a tube placed in their stomachs, or even in their vein to receive nutrition!

The most tragic aspect of failure to thrive is that it is so preventable. If mothers with postpartum depression identify this problem when it begins, they can get help and never have to subject their helpless infant to these terrible complications. In fact, studies have shown that nine-tenths of the women suffering from depression who seek treatment will experience significant improvement!

A variety of approaches is used to treat postpartum depression. Some doctors use medications, such as antidepressants. These medicines are expensive. They should also be avoided in nursing mothers. Moreover, antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts; these medications should be used with extreme caution.

Frequently, doctors recommend counseling instead of or in addition to medications. Psychotherapy, however, can be expensive. In addition, it can be time-consuming, and several weeks may pass before this treatment is successful. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the woman's depression, this may be too long for her baby. If the baby begins to experience growth delays, additional treatment may be required. 

Fortunately, other non-medicinal treatment options are available. Two innovative, effective approaches that typically offer results much more quickly than counseling, and are much less dangerous than medication, are Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy for depression. NLP and hypnosis usually begin to help after even a single session. In addition, they are much less expensive than other approaches.

Mothers who suspect they have postpartum depression need to seek treatment immediately so that their infants do not develop dangerous growth delays. The seriousness of the consequences for the baby demands that the treatment work quickly, and have a high rate of effectiveness. NLP and hypnosis for depression are inexpensive, work quickly, and are highly effective. This makes these two treatments ideal for treating postpartum depression.

Summary: Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after childbirth. These new mothers cannot give their babies the attention they need to survive and thrive. This causes failure to thrive, a serious, potentially deadly disorder, affecting the infant. Mothers who suspect that they have postpartum depression should get treatment as soon as possible. Hypnosis and NLP for depression are inexpensive and have demonstrated amazing effectiveness. 

© 2007 By Alan B. Densky, CH.  This document may NOT be re-printed without permission. All Rights Reserved.  We are happy to syndicate our articles to approved websites.

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