Dealing with Baby Blues
Post-partum depression (PPD), maternity depression or baby blues, call it what you may, all signal towards a general feeling of sadness and depression a mother faces after her baby comes into the world. Common sense says that giving birth to a baby after nine long months of changing body shape, morning sickness and limited physical mobility would be relieving for the mother. But against the common sense, the new mother is often found to be sad, tearful, jittery and sometimes hating the child that caused the whole situation.
There are many different things a mother faces after childbirth which range from mild fatigue to more severe clinical depression. The causes are many, including hormonal changes, physical changes, demands of a new role and other environmental causes. There are also various facets of post-delivery problems including post-partum exhaustion, depression and mood swings.
As a new mum, there’s a lot one has to deal with than just changing diapers. Being aware of the things one might face or is facing is the first step in dealing with it and when one knows what the diagnosis is, the cure is not far away.
Getting the basics right: PPD is a clinical depression, which needs professional help. Although not hard to treat, a good psychologist helps a new mother adjust with her role, her new life and all that is required to get back to her normal self as soon as possible.
Post-partum exhaustion (PPE), on the other hand, is more of a physical exhaustion or fatigue after the delivery, which generally includes sleep disturbances, fatigue and a general tiredness.
Baby blues, the common name of the general feeling of sadness just after the baby is born, is a more common and transitory phase which is characterized by mood changes, tearfulness, over emotionality, getting irritated quite easily and sleep disturbances.
Why does it happen?
There are plenty of changes a new mother goes through, including physical, mental and social. These changes can sometime be so overwhelming, along with the fact of giving birth to a child, that most women get sad and resentful about their new role. Fortunately, the body and the mind adjust quickly to the changes and the mother returns to her normal self again, sometimes in a few hours, sometimes in a matter of days.
If however, the depression lasts longer, continuing after months of childbirth, only then is PPD detected. The causes for the depression are many including: changes in the hormones, a family history of depression or mood disorder, profound changes in the lifestyle (most commonly cited reason), new responsibilities involving caring for the newborn, difficult marriage, low socio economic status, etc.
Symptoms: PDP can be hard to identify in the initial phase as the symptoms are common with the overwhelming effects of childbirth. The symptoms generally include a feeling of sadness, irritability, disturbance in eating; sleep disturbances, a sudden and unexplained loss or gain in weight, social withdrawal, decreased sex drive, anxiety or panic attacks, hopelessness, guilt and emotional outbursts.
Dealing with depression: If you’ve dealt with the long ordeal of pregnancy, rest assured, you can deal with this depressive phase too. There are many things you can do to help yourself get out of the blues as quickly as possible and get back to your new life. The things that will help you in the course include:
- Preparation: Knowing that new mothers are susceptible to depression is an added advantage when you get pregnant or deliver the baby. The most common feelings of resenting the child you wanted so badly is a major factor in the feelings of guilt that are common in depression. When you know that this feeling is common and acceptable in this phase, you can get over it more quickly. Also, preparing your family for what might come may ease the situation at home, as the mood outbursts are seen as a transitory behavior rather than a character flaw.
- A good diet: Many researches have emphasized on the lack of nutrients in diet as a factor for PPD. So, be sure to consult a dietician and get a good diet that would not only help with a healthy pregnancy but also in keeping away the post pregnancy blues.
- A supportive family: A good family for a woman starts with a supportive and understanding husband. Having a husband who knows that situations as this would arrive, and that he would have to help as much as he can, is a blessing in itself. So you can prepare your spouse with this information and tell him all the weird mood situations you might have and he might be facing.
- Perk up: It’s only natural that you’d not be in a really good shape when your baby arrives. The attention that suddenly shifts from you to the child can sure be an envious one as well. If you refuse to come out of that shabby appearance, chances are, you would feel ignored even more. On the other hand, if you groom your hair, bathe, wear nice clothes and smell good, you’ll automatically redeem your glory.
- A support system: This is probably one of the most important bits of advice you’ll get when you become a mother. Keep your support system close to you. The support system, with a few exceptions, is an all-girls team. It includes your mother, your mother-in-law, sister/s and friends (willing to help). The experience of the older ladies will help hone your mothering skills while the accompanying tips from girls like you will keep your mind fresh. Having one or more member from your girl squad at hand will also let you have some time for yourself and ease off the pressure of dealing with the demands of the newly born.
- Talk it out: As a woman, you probably know it already: talking is therapeutic. You can have a confidant with whom you can share all that is going in your mind. Giving words to thoughts also helps us see them in new light and get an insight into our lives. Discussing anything that might be upsetting you or planning out a routine with someone’s help are things which are stress relieving and help you get in control of your life. If, however, you don’t have anyone who is willing to listen or genuinely cannot listen, then keep a diary. Write daily, with all the details about what happened during the day, what things upset you, why they are troublesome and your current thoughts. This one habit, when followed religiously, gives new dimension to one’s thinking and helps to tackle problems more efficiently.
- Seek professional help: If nothing helps to alleviate the symptoms and thoughts of suicide or harming the baby are frequent then professional intervention is the best option. A professional psychologist or a psychiatrist is well trained to handle such situations and ease your mental pain to a great degree. Keep in mind that these professionals are more qualified to deal with things such as depression, than the general physician.
In the end, you must know that it’s okay to get overwhelmed, it’s totally fine if you can’t control your tears at smallest of things and it’s understandable if you’re sad and even resentful about all the new things that you have to do now. The nine month long ordeal is bound to bring changes and you are allowed to express them. When dealt with finesse, depression can be gone before you know it, and when it’s over, a more than eager mother awaits in you to step into the next stage of life.