Postpartum health is essential for a new mother to nurture her child and heal herself. Each woman undergoes a postpartum phase differently and the experience of postpartum depression is very real with changing hormones, body image, and emptiness after the child leaves the womb. Postpartum depression comes up within six weeks of birth and can go up to three years post-birth. If left unresolved, it can change into major depression later in life.
Women who undergo postpartum depression may lose purpose in life, and feel the drudgery of motherhood chores apart from all regular symptoms of depression like loss of appetite, irritability, and feeling lonely. Some of the other symptoms that can be looked out for are:
- Frequent crying
- Motherhood rage
- Frequent irritation
- Extreme weight loss or gain
- Feeling unattached to the baby
There are many painted images around motherhood. Images of happy mothers and happy children, mothers who have superpowers, and mothers who get back in shape within days of delivery cause us to believe that there are no downsides to being mothers. Reverence to mother goddesses or supermoms makes us question postpartum depression. Motherhood rage is a true phenomenon and mothers who go through it feel ashamed because they believe they have failed at a task women are naturally meant to do. More and more women talking of real motherhood experience is helping build awareness about the reality of the postpartum period, seeking help, and the role of the family in identifying and treating it.
Taking Baby Steps: Many mothers who have faced and moved past postpartum depression recommend taking baby steps to wade through the day. On days when molehills feel like mountains, take life step by step. Wake up and make the bed, pause and move to feed the baby, take a deep breath, change the baby, and go through the day one by one. Keep on repeating these baby steps until one is away from the feeling that life is one big chore and nothing is worth interest. With awareness of postpartum depression, it becomes easier to identify that the problem is an external situation, the mother herself isn’t problematic and will get past it.
Support from Family & Friends: Another necessary support during the postpartum period comes from family and friends who need to be exceptionally empathetic. It would not be a good thing to ask a mother to lose weight, eat less or give relentless advice on how to nurture a baby. If there is something you see not going right, lend a hand, the mother will see it and emulate it in her behavior. Talking to the new mother in a gentle and non-condescending way like, “I can understand how tough it must be for you…” helps the mother see you are her cheerleader.
Support from Mother Groups: Joining mother-toddler groups or new mother circles can help see the reality of mothers’ states in the same generation and helps them spend quality time with the infant. When there are others who are either going through the same thing or coaches who have gone through the program, again and again, they know they're in no shame attached and they are not alone.
In most cases, postpartum depression can be solved by encouraging a positive lifestyle for the mother and family support. If that does not help too much, then visiting a counselor becomes necessary and that can bring a positive outlook within no time. Postpartum depression is curable and should not be left unnoticed and untreated to avoid any serious repercussions in the future. The child needs its mother and all of us are here to strive for that, to give the child and the mother a safe ecosystem and the planet its healthy future.