Anxiety and depression are not something that anyone sees. Often women can experience notable emotional shifts following the birth of a child, due to the hormonal fluctuations taking place after delivery. These women might experience feelings of guilt and defeat as a mother and a wife. Increasing numbers of women are affected by postpartum depression. And, most often, those closest to us are not in a position to assist. UAE based aviation consultant Karuna Singh, who is also mother to two kids, opens up about her struggles with postpartum depression and what helped her get through it. This is her story.
This is her story.
“Before the birth of my first child, I used to wonder how is it that giving birth to something as cute as a newborn baby can lead a mother straight into the depression. But I got a first-hand experience of it when I had my first child. It is quite common for new mothers to experience ‘baby blues’ in the first couple of weeks. The emotional rollercoaster can be rather daunting for some. Anxiety, mood swings, anger, and crying are some of the symptoms of postpartum depression which can last longer and are more intense than baby blues. Postpartum depression: a term used to describe mental disorders associated with childbirth. I was shocked to see that about 20% of women experience postpartum depression after childbirth according to the World Health Organisation and the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.
I still remember the first time I saw my daughter’s heartbeat in the sonogram. I couldn’t believe that a human being was growing inside me. I did everything needed to have a healthy three trimesters: a healthy diet, prenatal yoga, meditation, walking, and antenatal classes. With the hope that I would be prepared for what’s coming. But nothing prepared me for what is called the fourth trimester, the three months after the birth of the baby: the most challenging and the most rewarding trimester in my view.
Nine months flew like a breeze and there came, my baby. It was love at first sight, the love which has only grown exponentially ever since. Little did I know my whole world changed. My life just got confined to the feed, poop, and eat schedule of my baby. Everything was so consumed by all of it that there was no time for anything else, absolutely nothing else. Things got more stressful when we had to deal with her health issues in the first couple of months: the allergy and the acid reflux. It was the constant stress of seeing her in distress 24×7. For some reason, I blamed all of it on me, after all, I was the mother and I was failing her. Judgemental relatives questioning my lack of experience as a mother didn’t help either, instead only dragged me straight to the very bottom. Somehow, I never got to enjoy the newborn phase of my daughter.
My daughter’s health improved slowly with time and I began to enjoy my life. It took 5-6 months for things to start to get back to normal although the schedule was still very hectic. But the darkness around my mind was clearing out slowly and I started feeling like myself again.
I cannot stress enough some things that one should aim for after the birth of the baby:
Get time for yourself, even if it is brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or taking a bath which seemed like such an impossible task in those early times. But it gives a refreshing break to you.
Get help. I mean ask for help if you can. Getting any sort of help either from friends or family can do wonders. A new mother is exhausted physically and mentally and friends/relatives can help by taking care of the house cleaning or making meals or even taking care of the baby for some time.
Trust your instincts. I wasn’t sure what that means before I became a mother but this is only a mother can understand and no one else. You and only you know your baby the best, and no one else. So act on your instincts and you will be surprised how rewarding that is.
Remember to eat and drink well. It is very easy to just be concerned about the baby but it is equally important to take care of your health. Healthy food creates a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Enjoy the small things your baby does, the first smile, the first roll, and remember that this won’t come again.
There are a lot of ways society can help new mothers.
By not putting so much pressure on an already stressed-out mother. Society has been laying the majority of the burden of child-rearing on a women but it is important to understand that spouses can pay a big role in helping new mothers and sharing the stress.
Focus on the post-birth care along with the pregnancy care. So much effort goes into taking care of a pregnant woman but soon after the birth everything just changes.
Don’t make it all about just the baby. Often the identity of a new mother is lost and the woman is only considered a mother after birth. But remember mother is only one of the roles a woman plays so make sure to treat the individual and not just the mother in her.
Prepare the woman for the after birth. There are tons of prenatal yoga, antenatal classes that help a woman get through pregnancy but equal importance should be laid on preparing a woman mentally and physically for the after birth.”
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