Giving birth to a brand new life can give rise to all sorts of different feelings – joy, excitement, curiosity, apprehension. One thing that you don’t expect, however, is depression.
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects as much as 1 in 9 mothers, and even up to 26% of fathers.
Just like any other mental illness, it needs to be destigmatized.
There is a common occurrence called the “baby blues” that begins within the first couple of days after delivery and may last up to two weeks. You may experience mood swings, crying spells, lose your appetite and have trouble sleeping.
This is entirely normal and most new moms experience it. No surprise – being a new mom is a lot to deal with! The problem occurs when it persists beyond the two-week mark and becomes a little more severe.
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from your family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Reduced interest or pleasure in things you would usually enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, the inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks (there is also a disorder called postpartum anxiety)
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
There are also much rarer cases of postpartum psychosis. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is essential that you get medical help and make lifestyle changes to help yourself as much as you possibly can.
Untreated PPD can last indefinitely and have negative consequences for both you and your baby, who may experience serious developmental issues and have trouble properly bonding with their mother due to a reduced ability to parent. This is not a flaw or a criticism – it is the consequence of an illness that you cannot control.
Some women are more at risk – this includes if you have a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder, relationship or financial concerns, alcoholism or drug abuse issues, difficulty breastfeeding, or your pregnancy was unplanned/unwanted among other things.
So, you’re struggling with some of the above symptoms – what do you do?
- First and foremost, reach out. Talk to your partner, friends, family, or even join a support group and ask for help. It may feel difficult at first, but you have nothing to be ashamed of, and getting help is for the good of you and everybody else around you.
- Get as much rest as you can by sleeping when your baby is sleeping, and remember to make time for yourself. Part of caring for your baby is caring for yourself so that you can be your best mum self.
- Make time to go out to visit loved ones, and try not to make any big life changes so as not to put more undue stress on yourself.
- The next step is to get professional help. This can come in the form of therapy or medication if those are accessible to you, but it’s important that you reach out to a doctor if you can.
Your mental health is important and struggling is completely normal and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
We all struggle at one time or another, and being a new mom is a lot of pressure!
Remember to take care of yourself and get as much help as you can – your health is just as important as your baby’s and it’s easy to neglect it.
PPD is not a character flaw but just a common birth complication like any physical one.
You deserve to live a happy life and experience the beauty of motherhood the best that you can!
Mums, did you suffer from postpartum depression after the birth of your child?
Comment below and share your story with other mums x