Are new moms doing okay? Recognize signs of mental health issues post pregnancy

Published on: 6 May 2022, 18:39 pm IST
A woman's life changes with childbirth, and it can also lead to some side effects. Pay attention to these symptoms of postpartum depression.
Aayushi Gupta
Haemorrhoids or anal fissures can cause you discomfort during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Post pregnancy — the term itself brings a lot of emotions, concerns, and questions. While having a newborn in your arms can feel overwhelming, maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle can be tough. With new responsibilities, a mother is often caught between trying to get used to taking care of her baby and dealing with the changes in her own body. Only mothers know how giving birth to a child transforms a woman’s life in the most unexpected ways. In the midst of all this, women may also experience prolonged and severe spells of depression or anxiety issues post pregnancy, known as postpartum depression. While it can take a toll on a mother’s ability to take care of her baby, we’re mentioning signs and symptoms of postpartum depression you need to look out for.

To know more about the condition Health Shots spoke to Dr Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru.

Postpartum depression can get worse in new mothers if you don’t pay attention. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Mental health issues post pregnancy can include baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis, according to Dr Inamdar.

Pregnancy and the delivery of a child are the most memorable experiences in a woman’s life. However, along with a baby, come a lot of challenges for the new mother. Taking care of the baby, accepting the postpartum body, and adjusting to the chaotic life can take a toll on the mental well-being of the new mom. Women are told how their physical bodies will change postpartum, but mental health issues are an often ignored aspect of pregnancy.

It is normal for mothers to feel lost in the first few weeks with the baby. They may experience stress, anxiety, and the urge to cry, and this could be a sign of postpartum depression. Knowing the symptoms of mental health issues can enable new moms to bond with their newborn baby.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression

Dr Inamdar says post pregnancy, mental health issues range from baby blues to postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Many mothers experience depression and anxiety in the first year of postpartum. It is normal to feel sad and low for two weeks after giving birth. This period is known as the baby blues. However, if you’re experiencing below mentioned symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression are:

  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritation
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Negative thoughts about harming yourself or the baby for more than two weeks
A new mom needs mental health support. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While baby blues and postpartum depression are still common, postpartum psychosis is a rare disorder that makes a woman lose touch with reality. Although mothers who have bipolar disorder or a history of mood disorders have a higher risk of experiencing this disease, it can occur in women with no previous history of mental illness as well. “Symptoms of this medical condition include confusion, hallucinations, delusions, disorganised behaviour, and suddenly feeling unconsciousness. Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric illness that requires immediate medical attention as it poses a threat of suicide and harm to the baby,” says Dr Inamdar.

Identifying mental health issues in women post pregnancy

Most of the times, women suffering from mental health issues postpartum tend to hide their feelings from other people. They don’t want to share their emotional burden with anyone else, which is why their silent cries for help often go unnoticed and unheard.

Dr Inamdar says, “It is the responsibility of the spouses, friends, and family to identify when the new mom suffers, and encourage her to seek treatment. They can also help by simply talking to her about her feelings. Asking about her day, helping around the house, taking care of the baby, and letting her sleep a few extra hours in the morning can help her feel less overwhelmed.”

Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.

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