The process of pregnancy, labor, and birth is strenuous and requires tremendous effort. However, the actual work begins when you bring your new born home. Getting used to a life with a new baby is a bit challenging; you will be dealing with breast pain (if nursing), lack of sleep, and other responsibilities that come with this new role. After giving birth, many women have a feeling of satisfaction; having accomplished the miracle of bringing a human being into the world. This feeling carries them through the first difficult weeks of uncertainty, fatigue, and anxiety when caring for the new baby. Unfortunately, there are a percentage of women (up to 18 percent) who are not lucky. These women suffer what we call postpartum depression!
Unlike “baby blues” which are generally mild feelings of moodiness, which last between 3 to 10 days after birth, postpartum depression is more severe and intense, and can last much longer. Symptoms range from extreme agitation, anxiety, irritability, lack of energy, hopelessness, restlessness, excessive crying, and physical ailments like heart palpitations and headaches. Some women may also start questioning their ability to become good mothers. They may lose interest in the baby and even contemplate harming him.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
Ideally, postpartum depression arises from a combination of physiological, psychological, and sociological conditions.
Physiological changes: It is believed that PPD is caused by a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone hormones and/or, sometimes, thyroid hormones. The sudden drop in these hormones may leave one feeling tired, sluggish, and depressed.
Psychological/Emotional factors: PPD is also believed to be caused by an unusually taxing birth, characterized by difficult, prolonged labor.Too much responsibility and too little sleep can also leave you feeling anxiousabout your responsibility as a new parent.
Doctors think that unhappy childhood, maybe one that included physical or mental abuse, difficulties in managing stress, history of depression, an ill baby, a premature birth, and/or an unwanted baby may also lead to postpartum depression.
As a new parent, there are many surprising facts you are going to discover about yourself. For instance that you don’t have the natural parenting ability you thought you had. Or that you are not as patient or perfect in your new role as you expected. This feeling is perfectly normal, so don’t beat yourself up for being heartless and unnatural. Remember, lifetime love tends to develop over time, and there is no deep and long-lasting bond of love than the one a parent feels for his child.
If you feel you could be suffering from PPD, contact your doctor who will use any of the below options to help you out.
Support groups: Joining a support group is always beneficial to new moms. It is a great way of spending time and exchanging ideas with other people whose daily lives are the same as yours. But, if you prefer to talk to family and friends, then reach out to them and ask for help. Taking care of a new born isn’t easy and you need as much help as possible to get used to the new routine. Fatigue can heighten your PPD, so don’t overdo it. Ensure you get enough rest and sleep.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: Therapy helps you talk things through and get a clear understanding of how your feelings, behaviors and thoughts all correlate. You will be able to identify and analyze the source of your negative thoughts especially those surrounding your abilities as a new mom. A counselor will also show you some of the ways to manage anxiety including relaxation techniques and deep breathing.
Medication: In some instances, the above therapies will have to be accompanied by medication. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, ensure you talk to your doctor first before taking any form of medication including supplements or over-the-counter medications.
Becoming a mom is among the greatest adjustments you will ever have to make in your life time. You will find that the baby sleeps for shorter periods and at the wrong times, probably more during the day than at night. You may feel inadequate and overwhelmed, yet you will have to deal with unfamiliar feeding routines, worry about the surrounding noise that may wake your little bunny, and deal with the constant dressing and changing of diapers. To top it all up, you will find that the baby’s cries are more frequent, more excruciating, and less explainable. You didn’t think it would be this crazy, but it is. If you feel that you have any of the symptoms of postpartum depression mentioned above, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor and/or family and friends. This is a medical condition that needs treatment. So, be honest with yourself and seek help.