The first few weeks after giving birth are considered a precious time for new mothers to bond with their babies. But this is also the period when the mother’s health is delicate, requiring adequate care for her physical, emotional and mental health. Failure to do so can lead to the development of complications, especially postpartum depression.
A mental health problem that affects around 20% of Indian mothers. Here’s everything you need to know about the disease, along with expert guidance on how to deal with it.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a mental health problem that affects many new mothers but is rarely diagnosed and treated. Most women experience anxiety and depression after giving birth and believe this is part of the process. It is not. Postpartum depression is a dangerous global condition that is estimated to affect one in seven women worldwide, but in India the number is closer to one in five.
It’s a complex mix of emotional, physical and behavioral changes that occur after giving birth, leaving you feeling physically weak and emotionally upset. It is often confused with baby blues.
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Baby Blues is a transient condition that lasts 4 to 6 weeks and affects 70% to 80% of new mothers. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, unexplained tears, mood swings and impatience. Baby Blues gradually resolve over days or weeks. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, persists for a month or more. This depletes the mother’s physical and emotional strength and requires medical intervention for the well-being of both mother and child,” explains Swati Sule, a Mumbai-based clinical hypnotherapist and transpersonal regression therapist who has a community called SwaMukti Unleash Yourself on coto , a social community platform just for women.
Interestingly, it’s not just mothers who can suffer from mild to severe symptoms of this depression; New parents can experience this too. Sule elaborates: Studies indicate that even new parents can experience postpartum symptoms such as fatigue and changes in eating or sleeping patterns. Those with a history of depression or who face financial challenges may also be susceptible to postpartum depression.”
Symptoms of postpartum depression
The birth of a newborn is such a significant change in a couple’s life that signs of postpartum depression can often go unnoticed or be considered normal behavior. However, there are some clear indicators that show that a mother is suffering from depression.
Symptoms, according to Sule, include deep sadness, sleep disturbances, lack of interest in the baby, feelings of inadequacy and even anxiety disorders. New mothers who experience this condition also tend to have a lot of negative thoughts, such as, I’m not good enough for my baby, I can’t handle this new phase, and also dangerous thoughts like, Life is no longer worth living. lived. When these symptoms persist for more than 4 to 6 weeks, it’s time to see a doctor as the mother is officially experiencing postpartum depression. If it is not diagnosed or treated at the right time, it can lead to behavioral complications, such as self-harm or harm to the newborn.
If a person continues to experience mood swings or feelings of depression for more than two weeks after giving birth, the problem may be more serious. If new mothers experience feelings of emptiness, lack of emotion, or sadness all or most of the time for more than four weeks, they may have postpartum depression,” notes Dr. Madhuri Bhatt, homeopath and clinical hypnotherapist, who runs a community called Healing and Homeopathy, on the stump.
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Treatment of postpartum depression
Although it is a serious condition, if diagnosed in time, it is possible to overcome postpartum depression with medication, a good physical routine and a strong support group.
555 Postpartum Rule
The 555 postpartum rule is an effective first step in healing a depressive episode. The postpartum period, also known as the puerperium or fourth trimester, is the period after childbirth in which the mother’s body undergoes changes related to pregnancy. The rule lays down a simple formula of five days in bed, five days in bed, and five days in bed, providing 15 days of complete rest after giving birth,” explains Bhatt. Following the 5-5-5 rule, she says, can help reduce the risk of postpartum injuries.
Nutrition plays a key role in nourishing the new mother’s body from within. Bhatt elaborates: Women can experience a complex mix of feelings and mood swings due to less sleep, changes in hormone levels, and a lack of self-care. New mothers should increase their intake of healthier foods and drink lots of water.”
Motherhood is not a bed of roses. It brings with it many challenges, both physical and emotional. At this time, it is important to seek help from friends and family. Bhatt says: New mothers shouldn’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help. Inform them about how they can provide any type of support, including cooking meals, helping with laundry, household chores, taking care of siblings, among others.”
In fact, with an increasing number of cases related to this mental health condition coming to light, many support groups are actively working to provide new mothers with all the guidance they need. Snugbub is a Bengaluru-based WhatsApp one-on-one professional support network that offers 24/7 guidance through posts and videos on postpartum depression and connects people to experts. #postpartumsupportindia is another support group on Instagram for mothers made by mothers. There are many such communities that you can connect with to get the guidance you need.
Today, in addition to conventional medicine, we have access to various therapeutic approaches that recognize the deep connection between the mind and the body. In case the expectant mother has experienced previous miscarriages or pregnancy traumas or any of the expectant parents have experienced early childhood or recent traumas, or are facing crucial relationship issues, it is highly recommended to heal these emotional issues before planning a baby.
Sule advocates maintaining a consistent physical exercise routine, guided by practices such as yoga and breathing. This will give you the time you need “and also calm your mind,” she says. Start with short walks, some basic stretches and include pranayama in your daily routine. Additionally, spend some time doing your favorite activity—whether it’s reading, listening to music, chatting with friends, or even going out for a quick coffee with your partner.
Remember, a happy mother translates to a happy baby. But just as you are responsible for your child, you are also responsible for yourself.
Shweta Dravid is a self-confessed explorer who writes about travel, health, wellness, mindfulness, and life truths.
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