WHAT IS POSTNATAL DEPRESSION?

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POSTNATAL_DEPRESSION

Pregnancy is such a holy time. That constant feeling of a little one growing inside you, nurturing the growing one, feeling excited and confident, ready to shower all your love. Isn't that what all to-be mothers feel at the onset of pregnancy? And then comes the grand finale day when you become a mother, celebrate motherhood, hold your baby, and are the happiest person in this world. But what if these feelings don't occur the way people and books have been narrating? Many of us are not aware of the fact that this mental state of being happy might not come naturally to mothers. They might not feel happy and elated the way they should after their child's birth. This is where we talk about depression; postnatal depression specifically. Within the year after delivery, 1 in 7 women find themselves in a deep, dark abyss of depression.

Depression and Postnatal depression

Depression is not something that you would want to happen to you even if you are not pregnant. It is a state of mind that undergoes a lot of highs and lows and other associated mood swings. Postpartum depression is a complex state of mind that involves a mix of physical, emotional, and behavioural changes in women after childbirth. It is a form of depression that occurs within 4 weeks after delivery. The condition can be measured on the length of time between delivery and onset and also on the severity of depression. While postnatal depression is a common affair, there are several causes and changes in the mental state of a new mother.

Mothers at risk of postnatal depression

New moms often experience disturbing maternal mental health after birth. The risk factors for such a condition increases if:

  • You have experienced depression in the previous pregnancy or at some other time in your life.
  • You have a family history of depression.
  • You have suffered from bipolar disorder there has been stress in your job, complications in pregnancy.
  • Your baby is born with special needs or health problems.
  • You have a strained relationship with your spouse.
  • There are financial problems in the family
  • You are undergoing an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy.

These are a few of the many factors that can lead to postnatal pregnancy. Expecting mothers should try to eliminate these risks for smooth childbirth and a happy, stress-free period post-delivery too.

What causes postnatal depression?

There are no exact causes that can specifically be called the reasons for postpartum depression, but there are a few factors that can contribute to the condition. The reasons can be physical stress or emotional discomfort or a combination of both.

Physical factors:

One of the major physical changes after childbirth involves the role of hormones. During pregnancy, your estrogen and progesterone levels are higher than usual; and they drop back to their previous state within hours of giving birth. This change is sudden and might cause depression. Other physical factors include:

  • Low thyroid level
  • Improper diet.
  • Presence of a previous medical condition.
  • Lack of sleep.

Emotional factors:

Emotional stability is an important factor during pregnancy. Mothers are more likely to have postpartum depression if there are mood swings or mood disorders in the past or someone else in the family is suffering from the same. Emotional stress factors include:

  • Financial burdens.
  • The other child having some health problems.
  • Recent divorce or death of a loved one.
  • Financial pressures.

What does postnatal depression look like?

A mother might feel moody or cranky or tired after giving birth to a baby. But postpartum depression is much more than that. The symptoms vary from person to person and the following might be the indicators:

  • Feeling sad or crying a lot without reasons.
  • Feeling exhausted but unable to sleep.
  • Drowsy and sleeping too much.
  • Binge eating even if there is no interest in food.
  • Unexplained illness or aches in the body.
  • A feeling of disconnection from the baby and no joy as you had anticipated throughout the pregnancy period.

Not opening up with people in fear that they would judge you, or think that you are a bad mother, and just withdrawing.

  • Thoughts about harming yourself and the baby.

These symptoms start showing up within a few weeks of delivery and might not surface until a few months. These symptoms can be handled well and treated if a mother reports any of these feelings.

How to deal with PPD

Seeking help is the first step towards healing yourself and bringing things back to normal. Once you have identified that you are suffering from postnatal depression, you can do the following things to deal with the condition:

1. Talk to people

While one part of you wants to keep everything to yourself, especially for an introverted person; but it is always a good option to talk to people you trust about your feelings and emotions. You will discover that you are not the only one going through this phase and that there are people who will listen and help you come out of this situation.

2. Fight isolation

You might not feel like sharing your feelings with anyone and try to cut off from people as well. But this will only feed the depression. You might not have a social life, but at least talk to your closest relations so that you don't feel isolated.

To avoid isolation, join depression group supports; especially for new moms. The group activities, discussions will keep you active and let you focus on other things that relieve stress.

3. Chores can take a back seat:

Not all mothers are into chores. If you are one of them, let the chores be. Just take care of your and baby's basic needs and take help from relatives or household help to get the chores done.

4. Resting is the key

Childbirth is a tiring process. Take a good night's sleep; try a hot water bath to relax. Meditation and massage also help ease tension and help fall asleep.

Medications for maintaining maternal health include the use of antidepressants and hormone therapy which might have side effects on the overall health of the mother. However, physical exercise, proper diet, and nutrition, mindfulness practices, mediation, etc can help improve the symptoms.

How is postnatal depression different from baby blues?

While talking about maternal mental health, it is important to mention a much heard and known term, baby blues which differs from postnatal depression. An example to highlight the difference; The moment I delivered my daughter, my heart was filled with intense love and emotions that I never knew existed within me. I could die for her, it was love at first sight. But the emotions that came along the post-delivery period were both awesome and awful. It is both beautiful and exhausting to know that I could love everybody so deeply.

Such feelings tend to fade away in a few weeks and are usually called baby blues; whereas postnatal depression stays for months together.

Mothers are the best gifts from God to this world, and entering motherhood is a blessing too. It takes courage to talk about the feelings that you are going through. Only a strong mind can bring up strong babies. At our Childbirth masterclass, we educate mothers about postnatal mental health and ways to stay calm and healthy during pregnancy.

Postpartum depression is treatable with the right knowledge and a good support system. Reach out to Babysutra to enrol in our masterclass 9 months and beyond if you have planned your baby.

Short class for parents

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