Handling Postpartum Depression

The birth of your baby has certainly got a lot of joy to your life. The birthing experience has been wonderful and all the stressful moments of your pregnancy were forgotten the minute you held the baby close to you. The birth of your baby would certainly have been a wonderful moment for you. Your family is around you celebrating the new ones arrival, and you are bombarded with a lot of dos and don’ts. A couple of weeks into the little one’s arrival, as the celebration phase begins to fade and everyone returns to their routine, out of the blue you are hit with a feeling of being lonely, sad or helpless. This is a normal feeling and it is often referred to as Postpartum Blues or baby blues. A milder form of Postpartum Blues is known to go away in a few days.

In some cases, these experiences may linger for longer causing the mother to be swamped by uncontrollable emotional bursts. When you begin to live in feelings of unexplained fear, sorrow and anxiety for a longer period of time, this will affect your may continue for a longer period of time and affect your quality of life. This problem is known as Postpartum Depression. It is not essential that first time moms only face this, it can also happen to women who have delivered more than once. In extreme cases the mother can require counseling and treatment.

Baby blues

It is easy to recognize the milder form of Postpartum Depression. Giving birth to a child and raising it is certainly a huge responsibility. Some women experience a feeling of being sad, anxious, lonely or angry for no apparent reason. You may also have negative feelings towards your baby. One thing you need to understand here is that these feelings are perfectly normal. Your lifestyle has taken a sudden change, from probably a carefree and independent life, you have moved on to a lot more responsible role of being a mother. In this phase you can feel extremely weak and exhausted; this could be because you are keeping up with the erratic times of the baby. Do understand that you are adjusting yourself to the baby and not vice versa. These feelings are termed as baby blues and are known to disappear in a short span of time.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a lot more serious version of baby blues and women undergoing this would require counseling and treatment without which it can affect the quality of life.

Women in this phase can find it difficult to mange and cope up with their day-to-day activities because the feeling of anxiety, distress and sorrow is overwhelming.

Some typical instances that can trigger the postpartum blues can be:

• A lack of support from their partner or the family members.

• An earlier history of depression

• Presence of postpartum in the earlier birth.

• A history of postpartum in her family.

• Undergoing any form of physical or emotional stress, like losing a loved one or moving into unfamiliar surroundings.

A woman’s body undergoes rapid hormonal changes within a couple of hours. There is a severe drop in the hormone levels. Estrogen and Progesterone can trigger off severe depression and mood swings that can last for many days. While most women can adjust to these changes, some women are unable to cope with the stress levels. Simple things as a lack of sleep or adjusting to the baby’s timing can be very overwhelming for a new mother.

Some or most of the factors listed below can trigger off postpartum depression in women.

Emotional Factors

A woman’s positive attitude and capability to handle certain situations can play an important role in their life. Giving birth itself is an exhausting process, it is said that the recovery period for a woman who has had a caesarean is far longer in comparison to a woman who has had a normal delivery.

A woman can undergo various emotional fluctuations post birth of the child. Her ability to deal with certain situations plays an important role in Postpartum Depression. For example, if the pregnancy was an unplanned one, then there are chances that the birth of the baby will weigh heavily on the mind, because she was not prepared for the responsibility. Having a baby in the house also means changes in your routine, be prepared for this. In some case if the baby that is born is special or has defects can cause a lot of pain and anguish to the mother.

If some women have experienced a bad childhood, they may have a baseless fear that their child may face it too. For some women it may matter that their body has undergone tremendous changes and that they do not look as attractive as they did earlier. Some women shirk from the responsibility of raising a child; they construe it as an additional work. Women with an insecure financial background could be worried about the future of the child.

These are just some of the reasons that can trigger off postpartum blues. There is nothing wrong in meeting a counselor to share your feelings and get treated. Postpartum blues, if left untreated, can affect the quality of life.

Family support

It is said that some women who are without a family support post birth can suffer from postpartum depression.  The lack of support can be in some of the forms listed below.

  • An unsupportive male partner who does not involve in taking care of the baby can be overwhelming.
  • A woman who stays away from her family is like to be depressed because she does not have anyone around her.
  • A woman who is unable to breastfeed her baby can develop guilt pangs that she is unable to take care of the basic needs of the baby.

Taking care of yourself

In most cases, women realize that they are suffering from postpartum depression. If you begin to feel any of the listed symptoms, don’t lose time in talking to your doctor. Have a frank talk with him and let him know what you are going through. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist treating depression. Depending on the severity, you may be put under medication apart from the counseling that will be offered to you.

It is perfectly fine if you have not been the “perfect mother” so far. Being a mother may not be natural to you, and you are just taking some time to learn your motherhood skills.

Identifying postpartum depression

If your partner is displaying one or more of these listed signs, she is in a phase of post partum depression.

An unusual feeling of helplessness, loneliness, anxiety, distress and anger.

  1. Strong emotions and emotional outbursts.
  2. Unexplained anger and irritability towards you and the baby.
  3. Display of a lack of interest or an increased interest in the welfare of the baby.
  4. Inability to cope with the daily routine.
  5. Lack of appetite and change in the sleep pattern
  6. Lack of interest in activities that she was interested in earlier.
  7. Baby blues do not go away and last for a longer period of time.
  8. A fear of being unable to cope with the new baby and being alone.
  9. Some women may experience a feeling that they may inadvertently harm their baby. This leads to the thought that they are not being a good mother, which can worsen their depression.
  10. Suicidal thoughts.
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