Dr Sadhvi Mythili
So you have always dreamed of holding a baby.
You were ready for the arrival. You emptied aisles of baby sections and your online carts are full of baby essentials.
You have read parenting books and joined all the mom groups.
You even practiced swaddling on your pet.
Yet, once the crying, pooping , sucking bundle of joy (or shall I say trouble) is here, you feel overwhelmed.
Actually, as a new mom myself,(for how long can you call yourself a new mom btw?)
I can confidently say that overwhelming is such an underwhelming term for the storm the new moms have to sail through.
A painful labor (or a much painful surgery),
nightmarish first days of breastfeeding,
lack of proper sleep for days along with freaking out once in a while about whether you would be able to keep the baby alive.
Almost all moms go through this.
Nearly 75% of moms have jitteriness, anxiety, mood swings, excessive preoccupation with the baby and worrying about the baby, an overall feeling that you are drowning.
This can be simply termed as ‘Baby blues’. With good support in the initial days most learn to cope with this.
However, few unfortunate moms face pretty severe symptoms which last much longer and are worse.
This is postpartum depression and nearly 10-15% of all moms suffer from it.
When you think about it the number is high.
Identifying postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can be identified by,
Excessive crying and frequent crying spells.
Feeling of detachment or lack of bonding with the baby.
Significant changes in appetite.
Complete lack of energy or feeling tired all the time.
Feelings of guilt about your parenting
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Inability to focus.
Fear/ thoughts of harming the baby.
Ideas of suicide.
Inability to sleep (not caused by baby)
If many of these symptoms are present for more than two weeks, consider discussing with your obstetrician. PPD can occur in late pregnancy to after delivery upto a year.
What causes it:
Pregnancy and childbirth are rollercoaster rides and a lot is happening both physically and emotionally.
All conspire together to cause this.
Who gets it:
Absolutely anyone can get (moms of course). However, few people are more prone due to the presence of few risk factors.
Risk of depression in the past, previous pregnancy or even in the family.
Lack of social and family support.
Unwanted or unplanned baby.
Medical issues in the mom or baby.
Problems with breastfeeding.
What to do?
If you are a family member or friend of the mother,
Try to understand the complexity of her emotions.
Refrain from giving unsolicited advice.
Don’t give useless statements like ‘you have no reason to be depressed about’ , ‘you are just overthinking’, ‘it is all in your head’ .( Of course, it is all in your head, where else do you think thoughts would be, kidney?)
Encourage the mom to seek medical help. Say things like, ‘it is OK to take help, it is for you and the baby’.
Tell her you are there for her whatever happens.
Provide both physical and emotional support. Grab the diaper and change it once or bring that feeding pillow when the mom wants to feed or if you are spouse, take turns holding the crying baby.
Give mom occasional breaks from baby, she is a human being after all.
Discuss things with her about the baby care , research and follow expert’s advice and dont mom-shame her for god’s sake .If you are the mom.
Congratulations, you now have entered the point of no return and I don’t think you will repent.
Yes, it is overwhelming for everybody.
I wanted to bang my head too.
Don’t be a super mom and try to do everything for your baby on your own.
Take breaks for your sake.
Don’t listen to everyone.
The moment you are pregnant, your milkman, maid, neighbour ,your uncle’s wife’s sister in law’s cousin and that random stranger on the internet, start showering their wisdom upon you.
Take everything with a grain of salt.
|Take only expert’s advice and well researched advice.
Take good naps whenever you can.
Let your husband or mother handle the crying baby once in a while.
Understand the difference between ‘baby blues’ and ‘postpartum depression’.
This is important.
There are lactation consultants available at your disposal.
Spend a few bucks and get that milk train going, if you have feeding issues.
If you have PPD, that doesn’t mean you are not a good mom or you are a weak mom.
Discuss with someone who can empathies.
Definitely, I repeat- definitely, seek medical help. That reduces significant suffering.
No one deserves to suffer for something that is curable.
If you have thoughts of harming yourself or the baby consult doctor IMMEDIATELY.
There are a variety of treatment options available which are chosen on your symptoms.
Dr.Sadhvi mythili, a psychiatrist and a naive mom,
trying to look cool among all great moms hiding the fact that I am a hot mess.
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