Delivering a child is one of the best blessings, but it comes with its own share of after-effects. These effects are not just physical in nature, but have mental repercussions too. It won’t be wrong if we say that some of the physical aspects also trigger the mental trauma, and that’s when postpartum depression kicks in.
During motherhood, a woman goes through a series of emotional, hormonal, and behavioral changes, which at times impacts her lifestyle. While some women adjust easily to this new routine with the help of their partner and other family members, a few may need extra effort to cope with this phase.
At times, this new responsibility hits them so hard that they go through depression, especially if there is no support or they are not ready to accept the changes.
While it is common for women to feel stressed about their routine and physical appearance after delivery, feeling overwhelmed or overburdened about it can lead to various problems. Postpartum depression is one such condition, which can affect any new mother after delivery.
After the delivery, there will be a rapid drop in female reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone which usually increases ten-fold during pregnancy. This chemical reaction along with social and psychological changes can impact the mental health of the new mother, pushing her to depression.
“Women with postpartum depression may experience frequent emotional highs and lows, like crying, fatigue, guilt, anxiety and difficulties caring for the baby. This does not mean that they hate or do not care for their baby. It is only the phase which needs to be identified and treated early,” suggests Dr Meghana Reddy, Senior Consultant – OBG, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield (a unit of Manipal Hospitals).
Though there is no particular reason for the mother to develop postpartum depression, genetic factors and environmental factors may play a major role. Past trauma, hormonal fluctuations, babies with special needs, young age, unwanted pregnancy, premature delivery, no support from the family, and lack of time may increase the risk of postpartum depression.
1. Hormones – Along with the female reproductive hormones, other hormones produced by the thyroid gland may also drop, making the mother tired or sluggish after delivery.
2. Anxiety – The ability to take care of the newborn along with other work may increase anxiety among women.
3. Sleep – Lack of sleep at night in addition to taking care of the baby during the day mostly pushes women to sleeplessness after delivery.
4. Self-image – Losing their control over life, that extra weight and low self-confidence can put an extra burden on their mental health.
In a few cases, a woman suffering from postpartum depression can think of harming the baby or herself. It is suggested to consult the doctor immediately, in case that happens.
“Treatment for postpartum depression is essential for the well-being of the parent and the newborn. The sooner the new mother receives it; the sooner they are likely to recover. Psychotherapy, antidepressants and participating in support groups are a few treatment options,” suggests Dr Reddy.
Postpartum depression can be avoided, if the new parents and their family members take recommended precautions. Here are some tips to follow after child birth:
Recognizing the symptoms of postpartum depression and treating them early is crucial. If left untreated, it can affect the bonding between the mother and child, and impacts the whole family.
Pooja (name changed) had delivered her baby a month ago and decided to shift to her husband’s house in the city. Though her mother planned to accompany her initially, due to her health conditions, she was unable to shift to the city. Within a few days, Pooja felt overwhelmed with managing the baby, and often felt stressed. Her sleeping habits took a hit, because of the extra work.
As Pooja was staying away from her family, she discussed this with her sister, who pacified her saying that every new mother goes through this problem, and she has to adjust with this. However, after a few days, Pooja felt it was difficult to look after the baby and that she had no time for herself.
Although her husband was helping her with the daily chores, Pooja felt frustrated and picked fights over trivial issues, leading to her crying. She could not focus on the baby as well and stopped speaking to family members. Observing the changes in his wife’s behavior and her attitude towards the baby, Pooja’s husband consulted the doctor who educated the couple about postpartum depression and guided Pooja on allocating time for the baby. Due to his timely intervention, Pooja could get help in time, and she was counselled by the psychologist.
So ladies, if you feel it too then don’t be late in seeking help.