Most new moms experience postpartum baby blues after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression isn’t a weakness, it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your little one.
To understand more, TC46 connected with Dr Ruth Fernandes, Consultant Clinical Psychiatrist of Motherhood Hospital, Pune. Here she explains causes, risk factors, challenges, and ways to deal with them.
1. Postpartum Depression Is A Change That Occurs After Childbirth
Postpartum depression is an emotional and behavioural change that occurs in some women after childbirth. They may experience symptoms of sadness, irritability, loss of interest, crying spells, guilt, inability to care for the baby, and in severe cases, thoughts of self-harm. The symptoms usually appear within a couple of weeks of delivery up to a year of childbirth.
2. There Is No Specific Cause Of Postpartum Depression
There is no specific or single cause for postpartum depression. However, the dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone levels after birth may be a significant factor. Risk factors like past history of depression, marital conflicts, family history of depression (especially postpartum depression), sleep deprivation, lack of support may be contributory. There is also a sudden shift in the lifestyle of the mother wherein she may have concerns about her identity and changes in her body.
3. Signs & Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression To Look Out For
- The feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and/or loneliness
- Being too anxious or too worried about little things
- Finding it hard to make decisions
- Losing interest in otherwise fun activities
- Being on the edge feeling
- Inability to care for the baby
- Crying spells
- Major mood swings
- Sleeping for elongated hours or being unable to sleep even when the baby is resting (any of the extremes)
- Foggy memory
- Increased irritability
4. Giving Birth Is A Life Changing Experience
Giving birth to a child is a big deal. It is life-changing for a female that makes her responsible for another life. Once a woman gives birth to a child, her body has gone through such a great deal of change. She has gained weight, she has stretch marks all over her body, and her breasts may feel heavy and sore. If she has had a C-section the stitches need to heal. Here are 10 vital things you need to know about a C-section. Mentally also she goes through challenges. She may feel emotionally exhausted, have self-doubts, feel anxious and stressed about taking care of the baby, feel lonely, and may have low self-esteem. Which makes it important for her family to be there to support her through this time.
5. Try These Ways To Cope With This Emotional Time
- Support groups: To help cope with this emotional time there are many mothers and babies’ support groups that mothers can join. In this kind of support group, all mothers share their daily struggles and small achievements that they go through with their new baby and other mothers go and listen so that they know that they are going through the same struggles.
- Family support: The family should help the mother in this new phase and should not disapprove of any feelings because that might further push her not to share her thoughts with one.
- Therapy: Speaking to a therapist or a doctor who can counsel the mother.
- Medicinal help: Medication may be recommended by your doctor.
- Self-care: Taking care of your own emotional and physical needs and being realistic in your expectations as a mother is vital.
6. Managing Postpartum Depression Is Possible
A new mother should try and express her feelings rather than suppressing them. Support from her family can be a great help. Taking medication that has been advised by the doctor must be followed without fail. Counselling, self-care, relaxation exercises, and setting realistic goals will help. Having a routine and managing time for yourself can also be helpful. Learn here about 5 positive ways to deal with post-pregnancy depression on an emotional level.
7. A Balanced Diet Can Help
Apart from medications, support groups, meditating, and taking out some alone time, a balanced diet can also be helpful. Taking in the required vitamins that the body needs is crucial as the lack of any one nutrient or vitamin can impact the body in a negative manner. One should remember that not only you, but your baby is also depending on you for his or her vitamins.
8. A New Mother Should Have Some Space
A new mother should try and take out time for herself. A new mother might feel overwhelmed and lonely as she might feel that her whole life has changed and revolves only around the newborn. This is not good for the newborn or the mother. So, a new mother should have some space, make sure she is getting enough sleep and rest, try relaxation exercises, meditation, and yoga (poses that are comfortable and safe for her). Postnatal yoga poses can soothe your mind and help restore and repair your tired body. Find here 7 yoga asanas by yoga guru Paramita Singh for postnatal strength. Talking about issues and sharing her feelings with a person that she feels safe with can be helpful. Venting can be a way to get rid of the thoughts that one may be having. Eating a well-balanced diet is also important.
9. Start Exercising Once Your General Practitioner Gives A Green Signal
You can start exercising once your general practitioner gives an okay and a green signal for you to start various forms of activities. One must always start out slowly and gradually increase the intensity. Here are some exercises you can try.
- Deep breathing exercises
- Kegel exercises
- Low-intensity cardio
- Walking or jogging and gradually running
10. Family & Friends Need To Offer The New Mom Support
The family members should be extremely supportive of a new mother. The family members should take out time and help her with the baby. They must validate her feelings. Try and help her socialise and make sure she is taking care of her health and all her needs.