Every mother looks forward to holding their baby in their arms. There is nothing more magical than this. It takes way the pain instantly and joy overwhelms every mother at this point. The ability to give life is all so glorious – no one can dispute this. Sadly, this feeling is short-lived. The reality of things soon reveals itself to you – taking care of a baby is not as easy as you might have thought it to be. When you consider the fact that you will be sleep deprived, having to wake up in the wee hours of the night to cater to your young one for several hours before you go back to sleep and wake again before you even have the chance to close your eyes for some little sleep. You will have to clean and cook extra leaving very little time for yourself. If you were used to getting everything you want and doing everything at your own free time, then this will prove to be a bitter pill to swallow. Add to this the fact that your hormones are all over taking you through a roller coaster that you cannot begin to understand. One moment you are so I love with your baby and cannot think of anything better that could have happened to you and the next you are thinking of how much the new born has got you grounded and the many things he/she is making you miss out on and you resent him/her for it.
But these baby blues are perfectly normal. As a matter of fact, if you do not gothrough them then you might not be normal. However, if these symptoms persist for a longer period of time and even get worse, then you should probably start considering seeking medical attention. Chances are you might into be dealing with baby blues any longer but postpartum depression which is much worse. It can weight heavy on you and even suck the life out of you. But before you think all hope is lost; there are ways you can get back on track – being the woman that you once were only with added responsibility – the gift of a child.
Is it baby blues of postpartum depression?
You expected it all to be heavenly. You expected to be in some kind of euphoria, a perfect world now that you have a baby. You expected all your friends and family to share in your happiness but instead all you seem to want to do is cry your eyes out. While you were looking forward to this day, you prepared yourself for excitement and welcoming friends and family into your home to see the new born. Nowhere in your wildest dreams had you prepared for anxiety, exhaustion and weepiness. But even while you might not have expected this, you should know that the mood swings, mild depression as well as anxiety are very common in new mothers. So common that it has been given a name – baby blues.
Baby blues is experienced by many women immediately after child birth. It is a feeling that is brought aboutby the changing and unstable levels of hormones after the delivery, the stress that comes with taking care of a child, isolation, fatigue and sleep deprivation. All this is expected for the first couple of days. After the first week and as you get into your second week, it develops into postpartum depression. Now postpartum is what you should be worried about. It is a serious problem that you just cannot avoid.
Over the past couple of years this disorder has gained a lot of traction all over the world from the media as well as the public. For this reason, and to be aware of it, we should have a look at itin details. What it is? Its symptoms as well as how it can be cured, if there is any cure.
It is very important that you understand that this is a very broad term. It is used to mean a host of many other disorders that come about as a result of a woman’s emotions being all over after birth. It is divided into three – baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. New categories have however been added to this over the years. They include postpartum anxiety, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder.
Now we have already looked at baby blues and baby blue symptoms. Let’s proceed to postpartum depression signs, symptoms and everything there is to it.
It is approximated that about 15% of all new mothers will experience this type of PPD. The symptoms may occur slightly after birth or even show a year after delivery. Women who suffer from this condition will have alternating good and bad days. The symptoms might be mid or severe and last for over two weeks.
Symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feeling hopeless, sad and overwhelmed
- Trouble eating and sleeping
- Losing interest in things that previously caught your attention and you used toenjoy
- Withdrawing from your friends and family
- Losing interest in your baby and feeling as though it is a burden
- Having thoughts of hurting your baby and yourself
Since this condition can vary in severity, it is very important that you contact your health care provider. Get in touch with him/her and share the feeling and symptoms that you are having. You might be given some medication or taken through therapy either is effective in combating this depression.
This affects close to 10% of all the women who give birth. They may experience the anxiety itself or may have it in combination with the depression. It can also come inclusive of postpartum panic disorder which can include panic attacks as well as anxiety.
Its symptoms include:
- Thoughts racing through your mind and you have a hard time controlling them
- Changes in the sleeping and eating habits
- Constant worrying
- Trouble focusing and even sitting still
- Hot flashes, dizziness and nausea
- Fear that something bad is about to happen even when you are in the safest of places
This anxiety is treatable and often goes away once the treatment has been arrived at.
Postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder
This is one of the newest addition to the group. It is estimated to be with more than 3% of women who have just delivered. Some of its symptoms include:
- Getting overly occupied with ensuring and keeping the baby safe at all times.
- A compelling desire to do things over and over again in a bid to relieve the fear and the stress. This can mean counting things over and over again, ordering things, listing things down a fresh, rechecking actions and even cleaning already sparkling clean surfaces and objects
- The fear of being alone with the baby
Many women who suffer from this disorder know that the feeling s and the thoughts that they have are not normal but always ignore them. They do nothing to help solve them. However, these obsessions though seemingly harmless can very well get in the way of taking great care of your young one properly and even enjoy having him/her around. You will always feel controlled and bound even when you are free to do whatever it is that you please.
Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This normally affects many of the women who actually had a real trauma during child bearing or immediately after. It is approximated that about 1-6% of such women experience this kind of posttraumatic stress after childbirth.
Traumas that may cause this condition include:
- Unplanned caesarean section
- Childbirth complications like the prolapsed cord
- Birth that involved an invasive intervention such as the use of forceps and vacuum extractors
- Baby having to stay in the NICU
- Lack of assurance and support after delivery
- Feeling powerless
- Lack of communication from the delivery team
- Panic attacks and anxiety attacks
- Feeling detached from life and reality
- Flashbacks and nightmares to the birth
- Sleeplessness, irritability, startles, hypervigilance
- Avoiding anything that reminds you of the people during delivery, the smell, noises and feelings
Those women who experience this should speak it out and seek medical attention from a health care provider. With the right treatment it should go away – in little chunks.
This is probably the most severe of them all. The good news is that it is the rarest of them all (nature has its way of balancing itself out). Out of every 1000 pregnancies only one or two will experience this. Normally it lasts about 2-3 weeks after birth.
- Suicidal thoughts
- Rapid mood swings
- Thoughts of hurting the new born
- Bizarre behaviour
It is considered to be a medical emergency and should as such be treated with immediate effect. If you know anyone struggling with it you should contact a friend or a physician for help immediately.
Stages of Postpartum depression
Even with all the symptoms that have been listed above, it is great to know that it just does not appear out of the blues. There are some stages that it occurs in – five stages to be exact.
You might think to yourself that this is just how new mother hood is like. These thoughts are very common especially in women who are having their first child. You think to yourself that all will be alright and deny that it cannot be anything as serious as postpartum depression. There is no way you can be mentally ill, it just does not run in your family.
Well, it does not wear off without some effort from your part and you just do not need to sleep it off.
No one seems to understand you. You are going through such a trying time. After all,giving life is not such an easy process. Your body feels as though it is not your own and everyone is treating you like any other person. You deserve to be happy and not crying all the time. You do not want to go to therapy let alone take medication for your condition. You should not call the doctor as there is nothing wrong with you. It is just not fair.
If I just exercise a little bit more and eat slightly better and nutritious food it will all be fine. If I take a lot of vitamins to compliment my diet I will be okay. If I could just get to the month where the baby can sleep through the night, all will be fine. If I get closer to God and pray more than I do this will all go away. I just need to put in more effort to make this work.
I should probably just leave my family. I am a burden to them and bringing them down with everything I am and I do. They would bebetter off without me. My baby does not deserve a mother like m. he/she deserves someone much better. It will never get better. There is no point in trying.
What is happening to me is not in the least normal and there is no way I can ignore it any longer. It is not my fault and many mothers out there are experiencing it. They are getting help and so should I. it is okay to speak to a professional to get my problems solved. There is some medication that I can take for all this to go away. I can do whatever is necessary for my health, that of my baby and family as a while. Postpartum depression is treatable with the right kind of help from professionals.
How is PPD treated?
If you think that you have this condition, you should seek medical help instantly. Do not wait to see if it will go away by itself. Seek to nip it at the bud – it is better this way. You could go and see your obstetrician, family doctor or any other certified nurse that you feel comfortable around.
There are questions that these professionals will ask you to determine what type of PPD it is you are suffering from. You should answer them with all honesty so that they can get the right treatment for you and get the rollercoaster of emotions over and done with.
Below are some of thepostpartum depression treatments that may be suggested for you.
Develop and create a secure connection with your little one
Mothers need to have a secure attachment with their baby’s as dothe baby.The cohesiveness of the baby’s brain will depend on the emotional bond that is formed between it and the mother. This will also help you to release endorphins which will make you feel happier all through.
Ideally mothers who suffer from this depression tend to pull away from their babies and interact less with them. They breast feed less and rarely play or even read to their baby’s. in addition to this, they also might be very inconsistent with the way that they treat their young ones.
They can be loving at one time and the next very harsh and cold not wanting to see him/her close. This inconsistency tends to interfere with the process of bonding.
Forming and creating a secure connection is necessary since it will help you the mother to respond warmly to your baby at all times and cater to his/her emotional and physical needs as they pop up. Your emotions will be in synch. When the baby cries you will feel the need to soothe and care and when he/she laughs you will smile back. You will learn to recognise each other through emotional signals.
In the event you didn’t experience such kind of a bond with your mother, you should not worry, it is something that you can learn with time.
Lean on other for support and help
Regardlessof how independent we will to seem humans are very social beings and depend on each other for survival. Positive social contact can help to relieve any stress that you have faster than if you were alone watching a comical movie. In the past women used to receive help from their friends who also helped to care for the baby and teach them how everything was handled. In today’s world however, mothers often find themselves isolated, alone and exhausted with no one to lean on for support. Below are some ideas to help you connect with other individuals.
Make developing lasting relationships your priorityeverytime you are feeling low and depresses, you should stay connected with your family and friends even though every bone in your body is telling you otherwise. Isolating yourself makes the situation to seem and look bleaker than it was before. Let your loved ones in and let them know what it is you need and how it is you would like them to support you.
Do not keep your feelings to yourself
In addition to asking for practical help from your friends and family, you also should let them act as your emotional outlet. You should share with them as much as you can. All the bad, the good and the ugly should be let out in the open to atleast one other individual that you are comfortable with. Tough it really does not matter who it is you talk to so long as you air your grievances and your great times with to your friends the feeling of being alone will go away.
Be a ‘joiner’
Though you might have friends already, you should endeavour to seek out more friends – women who share in your feeling. It is always very reassuring to hear from another mother who is experiencing the same roller coaster of emotions as you are. It helps you feel a little bit normal than you thought you were. A great place to meet new mothers is in support groups and in organisations and even online platform in this day and age where the internet has taken over the world.
Take great care of yourself
On of the greatest things that you can do is to take care of yourself. This will keep the PPD at bay and even reduce it if you already have it. The more you take care of your metal and physical wellness the better you will feel. Simple changes to your lifestyle will be perfect and can go a great way to making you feel even better. Below are some of the ways in which you can take care of yourself. Make these changes in your lifestyle and you will most definitely notice great changes in your feelings.
Skip all the housework
You should make your baby and yourself your priority. Concentrate on the baby. It is a 24/7 hour job. If you could free up your schedule and do this only, you will feel less stressed.
Get back into exercising
There is just something about exercising that helps to get you all relaxed. Studies continue to show and prove that when it comes to this, your depression will die down. So the sooner you get back on the saddle the better it will be for you and everyone else as well.
Do not slack on the sleep
Scientists have it that an average human being should have eight hours of sleep. This is very important whether or not you have a tight schedule or not. You can manage to sleep for atleast 8 hours every day. Having less sleep will only make things worse. You can catch naps if you feel your timetable is too full for this.
If you will be taking medications, you will be given anti-depressants and estrogen.
Antidepressants are used to treat all kinds of depression including PPD. They however do have some side effects which include weight gain and dry mouth. Some are also not safe to take if you are still breast feeding.
Estrogen on the other hand, is a hormone that plays a very important rolein the menstrual cycle and also during pregnancy. During delivery, their levels will drop significantly which can take a toll on you. To get them back to normal levels, daily dosage of this hormone will do the trick. If you are breastfeeding first check with your health care provider to know if it is safe.
With this guide you will be able to know whether or not your symptoms are any cause for alarm. If you do have this condition, you now know the steps that you should take. A quick note though, with regards to the medication, you should not discontinue any dosage without the go ahead from your healthcare provider. On the other hand, if the medication has side effects, you should discontinue it with immediate effect.