Giving birth is one of the most momentous moments in a woman’s life. To finally be able to hold your child, see them is feeling words cannot express. But having a child is also one of the scariest and overwhelming experiences for both the parents. Women, especially, go through a whole range of emotions for a few weeks after birth with their body adjusting to the hormonal changes.
Some women might feel what is popularly called “baby blues”. Baby blues is the feeling of sadness and being overwhelmed that begin after childbirth. It is accompanied by irritation, mood swings, feeling tired. However, they are normal due to hormonal changes and go away within days.
However, if baby blues last longer than two weeks, it is best to consult a doctor because the mom might be suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a mental illness that affects parents and manifests itself within six months of childbirth. While it affects 1 in 10 mothers, it can also affect fathers (though not as frequently).
Some symptoms of postpartum depression are frequent crying, irritability, loss of appetite and energy, showing very little interest in your baby, etc. With all these symptoms, it is easy to get it confused with baby blues but it is important to remember that these baby blues never last longer than a few weeks at the most! If someone is suffering for longer than that, it is best to consult a doctor.
The main cause of postpartum depression is attributed to changes in the hormone levels. However, if you’ve had previous postpartum depression or have a history of depression or a stressful relationship during pregnancy, you are more susceptible to it. And sadly, postpartum depression is not something we can avoid or prevent. The root cause of why it happens is not yet conclusive. However, what we can do is prepare for it.
If you have a history of postpartum depression it is best to prepare yourself. Exercising right and eating healthy during your pregnancy are the best and easiest ways to get started. Adopt a stress-busting activity that works for you and lay off the caffeine. It is also best to consult a doctor and share your history with them as he/she might be able to guide you better or provide steps to help you manage.
Aside from preparation, postpartum depression is treated like any other depression. Support and counselling are the most popular ways to help deal with it. Besides that, a doctor prescribed anti-depressants also go a long way in helping the parent. It should be ensured that the person suffering has someone to talk to and help them with the overwhelming work. Assure them that their postpartum depression does not mean they are a bad parent and encourage them to take out time for themselves.
Dealing with postpartum depression is not easy. It is a series of small steps and a very long journey. However, the person suffering should have the full support of their friends and family to get through it. They should be working with a doctor who is aware of effects of postpartum depression and can build a trusting and caring environment for the patient.
Postpartum depression can affect anyone. And while we cannot prevent it, educating ourselves about it and depression, in general, goes a long way in recognizing and managing it at its earlier stages.
Remember, if you’re suffering from depression, postpartum or otherwise, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You’re a warrior with your own battles and every little win of yours counts.