Finally, the baby has arrived. Everybody is celebrating. You want to too. But, you are also experiencing an array of other emotions.
The birth of a child is an intensely emotional experience, which is why many new mothers feel the “baby blues”. Baby blues is an emotional reaction where new mothers could be sad, weepy, anxious, moody, or irritable in the initial weeks’ post childbirth. It usually begins after delivery and lasts no longer than two weeks.
However, if these emotions continue for longer and become more severe, the mother may be experiencing postpartum depression.
There is no one reason in particular, though depression or anxiety during pregnancy is seen as a serious trigger. Experts say that hormonal, environmental, psychological, physiological, genetic factors could give rise to postpartum depression.
Symptoms to watch out for
- Severe depression or mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities (which were enjoyable earlier)
- Intense irritability and anger
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Coping with postpartum depression
Share your feelings: Talk to your partner, family, or close friends about how you feel. Confide in people who will understand your predicament and not pass judgement. Remember postpartum depression is only a temporary phase; it has no bearing on your future relationship with your child.
Have a strong support system: Do not feel embarrassed to ask for help. As you begin learning on the job, seek help from those who have more experience than you – your mother, mother-in-law. If possible, hire a nanny. A good support system will give you the backing you need during this phase. You could also join a support group for mothers; you may be surprised to find other mothers having similar experiences.
Take it easy: Motherhood does not mean that you will now forget about yourself. While you will always want to put your child’s needs’ before yours, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, meditate – channel your energy positively. Make time for your spouse, family and friends.
Ask your doctor to check your thyroid functioning and a complete medical check up to rule out any physical factors that could be contributing to the symptoms. If your doctors suggest anti-depressant medication, make sure you ask all the relevant questions, notify the doctor of your breastfeeding and infant care status.
This is a new experience for you. Savour it slowly. You do not need to be on top of everything! If the laundry hasn’t been done, do not panic. Either assign the job to someone else or do it when you are free. Take ample rest.
Finally, remember the healthier you are physically and mentally, the better equipped you will be to take care of your bundle of joy.