Pregnancy is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful journeys and experiences in the life of a woman. It is thrilling as well as a mysterious part of her life.
Everyone around will tell a woman what to do and not to do for the baby. All the advice you get becomes so overwhelming that sometimes it becomes uncertain for her to assess her feelings. Family members are excited and expect her to be excited at every step of the journey as well as post the delivery.
More often than not, a woman loses herself in the process of becoming a mother. And one of the never talked about part of giving birth is never discussed with the woman by her family, friends or the doctors. Postpartum depression is real and it is high time to discuss these things openly.
It Is Not Just in the Head!
A new mom goes through many changes in her mind and body after birth. The hormonal changes, mood swings, sleep deprivation, isolation, stress, and fatigue are the basic reasons for this sudden change. Immediately after birth, the hormones in the body change to adapt it for the baby.
Breastfeeding, taking care of the baby becomes the only responsibility of the mother. While some women may feel happy and joyful about this entire change, a few may feel sad or fearful. Yes, sadness and fear are also common emotions among new mothers.
The sadness, no attachment towards the baby is common in the first couple of days.
Gradually, this feeling should go away. Sometimes it may take a week to taper off, but if it lasts more than that then you are suffering from Postpartum Depression.
The symptoms may take a few days to almost six months to develop and may last for a very long time. Sudden mood swings, inability to think, make decisions, bonding with the child are the first noticeable signs.
There is no need to worry. This is a known phenomenon and one in almost 7 women in the U.S. go through it. These signs may be an indication that you are experiencing what is known as baby blues.
Postpartum depression, on the contrary, will have similar symptoms but may be accompanied by suicidal thoughts, inability to take care of the baby. These signs are also long-lasting while the baby blue symptoms may fade away once you jump into a routine with the child.
Common Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
- Withdrawal from the partner and inability to bond with the baby.
- Staying anxious throughout the day, unable to sleep even when the baby is sleeping, unable to eat properly.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, suicidal tendencies.
Now we know the reasons as well the symptoms for postpartum depression. However, clinical advice must be sought before jumping to the conclusion that you are suffering from postpartum depression.
How to Cope with Postpartum Depression?
Tip 1: Bond with the Baby
It is often said that there needs to be an attachment between the baby and the mother. This attachment is an emotional bonding that enables the child to develop and feel secure with the mother. It also forms the basis of how the baby will communicate, interact and make relationships in the future.
Both should share a secure and close attachment. A mother should be consistent and gentle with her responses to the baby. Both the emotional and physical needs of the baby are taken care of by her. But when the mother is suffering from postpartum depression, she may not be able to tend to the baby’s needs positively. At times she may be loving while at times she may choose to not respond or respond negatively.
It is important to start bonding with the baby. This benefits both the child and the mother. Endorphins are released in your body which will make you happier and confident. Needless to say, the benefit your child may have from this. Learn to bond by spending time with the baby and focusing only on the baby for a few minutes in the day.
Tip 2: Ask for Help
It is always a good idea to lean onto friends and family for support. Taking care of the baby all by yourself is exhausting and does not leave you any time for yourself. Start connecting with people who are genuinely interested in your well-being. These are some tips to become social:
- Prioritize relationships: All the changes in your life might have left your relationships on a back seat for now. But this is the time to connect with them and ask them for support. It is not a sign of weakness to tell people you need their help. Isolation will lead you to more vulnerable and depressed.
- Express yourself: Be very clear with your close ones about your emotional needs. Whatever you feel needs to be told to at least one person. That person should be supportive and not judgmental.
- Join a support group: sometimes it is better to talk to women who are going through the same turmoil. You can meet new moms and get tips on how they are dealing with the situation. Just a normal talk can change your feelings. Check with your pediatrician to know more about these groups.
Tip 3: Spend Time with Your Partner
Many marriages crumble under the burden of taking care of the newborn. Women look up to their partners for emotional support but fail to express it. The energy, time and other demands from a newborn can be taxing. It might create a gap between you and your partner. It is important to create a strong bond with him and preserve it.
- You are in this together: You might feel frustrated at the end of the day after tending to the needs of your baby. It is possible that you might want to take out the frustration on your partner. You need to understand that you both are one unit and in it together. You can handle all challenges beautifully if you act as a team.
- Open communication: Your partner will not understand what you need until you discuss it with him. Divide the household as well as childcare responsibility in advance so you also have enough time for yourself.
- Spend quality time: Spend at least half an hour together on most days of the week. Initially, you might not have time to go out on dates. So start having a meal together or watch Netflix. As your child grows up, you can go out for romantic dates or adventures. You will have to carve out your time together.
Tip 4: Prioritize Yourself
One of the easiest yet most difficult things you can do is to take good care of yourself. Nothing can beat postpartum depression better than this. Invest time in your physical and mental well-being. Simplify your life as much as you can. Be gentle towards yourself.
- Postpone household chores: You and the baby should be on the top priority for the next few months. Let yourself enjoy the time you are spending with the baby. Everything else can wait for the time being. Taking care of the baby is itself a full-time job.
- Work out: Exercising helps in overcoming depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. It is better to get back to exercising as soon as you can. There is no need to strain yourself. A simple walk can do the magic. Stretching exercises, Yoga, mindful meditation can calm you as well as give you the energy to work throughout the day. Meditation will help you become aware of your feelings and needs. Sunlight can lift the worst moods. Go in the sun for 10 minutes at the very minimum.
- Sleep: While an 8-hour sleep isn’t in your destiny for the next few months, sleep as much as you can. Poor sleeping habits and patterns can make matters worse. Rest whenever appropriate and needed. Ask your partner, family members or friends to look after the baby while you can take a quick nap.
- Take a break: Pamper yourself in the smallest ways. Enjoy a warm bubble bath, sip a cup of coffee, read your favorite book, book yourself a spa at home. Relax from the mom’s duties for some time.
- Eat well: Do not neglect food. It is important to eat well and a nutritious meal. Breastfeeding moms need to eat adequately for both baby and self.
If you are still unable to cope up with your feelings, it is best to see your doctor. Depression can get worse if ignored for a long time. You might only need therapy or antidepressants or both. In any case, postpartum depression can be treated with the support and guidance of a medical practitioner.
Postpartum depression is a temporary state and anyone can go back to feeling normal over time. Most cases see an improvement within 6 months. If your symptoms are severe like suicidal tendencies, then contact the emergency services before taking any step to hurt yourself or your baby.