Reena was telling me about her recent experience post-delivery. “Long wait of nine months was over. I had delivered a beautiful son. Everyone in the family was on cloud nine. But, I was confused. I was not able to get hold of my own self. I wanted to be cheerful and happy as everybody. Everything I wanted was there but I was NUMB. Whenever I looked at him, I felt as if my stomach inside was churning and my chest became heavy. I was sleepless, tried to sleep when the baby slept but all in vain. It was all so overwhelming. It didn’t feel right even when everything was. I was getting irritated for no reason, sometimes shouting at my husband. I just felt like crying all the time. I used to be very lively and cheerful. Then why I was sad and moody when I had no reason to be? ”
What happened to the liveliness and happiness all of a sudden?
As evidence suggests, above scenario is way too more common than we think. More than 80% of women face POSTPARTUM BLUES but it goes unrecognized. The new mothers suffer silently and fight their inner self. This contrary feeling to what every new mother expects to have after childbirth is precipitated by sudden change of hormones, exhaustion, stress, sleeplessness and new responsibilities.
The postpartum blues start within 2-3 days of childbirth, peak around 1 week and go away by the end of 2 weeks. Only reassurance and support is required during that period.
Then why am I talking about it?
20-25% women with postpartum blues go on to develop postpartum depression. Even the rest of those who recover, it is important so as to reduce their sufferings. Every single day from the moment of conception in the crucial first 1000 days of a child’s development is very important. Mother’s mental and physical health has the direct impact on the child’s mental and physical development.
So, what the family needs to do?
1. Please ask, ‘How’s the mum?’ Whenever you enter the room, ask how the mum is doing along with the baby. We tend to just ask about the baby and continue with our work. The mother who was the center of family all throughout pregnancy unknowingly gets neglected. It becomes very difficult to process along with the emotional turmoil already the mother is facing.
And what you need to do?
2. Talk to her. Acknowledge her feelings, rather than judging them. Reassure her that you are with her.
3. Help her with the baby work. She might not ask you to do it as blues make her bit possessive and moody. Just don’t ask. DO IT.
4. Make sure she sleeps well. May be you can baby sit once in a while, while she takes a nap.
5. Talk to a Mental Health Professional if things are not improving or are more severe.
1. It’s ok not to be ok. Don’t be too harsh on yourself trying to be perfect. No one is. It is never love at first sight as the media projects. It’s a relationship that you and your baby develops over some time. Baby develops attachment and you develop bonding.
2. Talk to someone close about how you feel.
3. Talk to new mothers in your friend circle. It really helps to share each other’s experiences and know you are not the only one.
4. Take proper sleep. Sleep when the baby sleeps. It is very important to be well rested.
5. Recruit in some help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. It’s ok to delegate some of the work to other family members. It will not make you a bad mother.
6. Self-care: pamper yourself in a healthy way
a. Take a warm shower
b. Listen to music
c. Read good books (can do that while the baby feeds)
d. Deep breathing/breathing exercises
e. Eat well. Eat healthy.
7. Talk to a Mental Health Professional if things are not improving or are more severe