It is without a doubt that when a woman gives birth to her child, a feeling of incomparable joy and happiness always follows. Although the sense of fear and uncertainty about being a new mother also tags along, it is pretty much normal for any pregnant woman.
However, have you wondered what it is like when that anxious and doubtful feelings become tenfold? What is it like for a woman to experience postpartum depression or anxiety?
Postpartum depression: what to know
Postpartum depression or PPD is a kind of common condition where a new mother undergoes an array of mixed emotions after giving birth. The condition can generally occur around 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth or can even develop after several months. These feelings can go from being blissfully happy to being extremely downcast or even depressed. This kind of phenomenon is often called ‘baby blues.’ The time a new mother goes through this phase would usually last around a week or so. This is because of dramatic hormonal shifts occurring in a woman especially after giving birth.
There is no substantial reason why PPD happens. When a woman experiences anxiety after childbirth, it does not signify that a mother doesn’t love her newborn infant. However, PPD is often associated with a psychological disorder that can affect around one in seven women across the globe. Often, PPD is a condition that is triggered by past traumatic psychological experiences that require treatment, medication and support groups. This can result in adverse effects on a new mother especially in their ability to perform her daily tasks.
So, what are the signs that indicate postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression can have different effects on any parent. There are also mothers who do not even feel the symptoms at all. Having PPD is also similar to depression. However, listed below are some of the signs that are common to the condition condition to look out for new mothers:
- The intense feeling of being overwhelmed
Being a new mother can be scary. However, when postpartum anxiety kicks in, it makes a woman’s life becomes unbearable. A new mother with PPD would often think that she is trapped or that she is unable to cope handling being a new mother.
- Prolonged feelings of sadness and sorrow
Similar to depression, a new mother experiencing postpartum anxiety would generally feel that she is carrying the burden on herself and her new infant. This feeling is associated with the inability to take care of the infant, the responsibilities of being a new parent and many others. This can often lead to dejection and grief and can go on for several weeks.
- Social withdrawal and refusal to be surrounded by family and friends
When we are feeling sad, we often turn to people who are close to us for support and comfort like our partner or immediate family. However, a woman experiencing PPD would usually distance or withdraw herself from such situations.
- Feeling lethargic and tired for no reason
It is understood that giving birth is no easy feat. For women with PPD, the feeling of tiredness and lethargy can often occur for an extended time.
- Sudden angry outbursts and mood swings
When you’re going through hormonal changes, it is easy to get irritated and angry. For a woman experiencing PPD, the feelings are usually a bit more extreme. You can expect a lot of sudden angry outbursts and then to uncalled high spirits.
- Losing interest in normal daily activities
Activities like cooking and cleaning become overwhelming for a woman with PPD. Moreover, even a woman with PPD starts to lose interest in sex with her partner.
- Feeling guilty, restless, and confused
It’s normal for a new mother to be at lost with the responsibilities of being one. A mother with PPD, however, feels overwhelmed and frightened. Other times, a mother with PPD will feel guilty because of not knowing what to do next. She becomes anxious and finds herself constantly in tears.
How to deal with the baby blues?
It is understood that there are a lot of things to consider when becoming a new parent. Being at a loss with what to do is generally normal for any new mother. However, when it becomes overbearing anxiety, it becomes extremely difficult for a new mom to handle the burden. Below are five easy and effective methods to deal with the problem:
- Find ways to have time for yourself
There could be other reasons why any new mother can feel the anxiety of having a newborn. You could be stressed with the pressures of work or at home, and it’s a good idea to give yourself time unwind. Find yourself a person you can trust to help you look after your infants like your mother or mother-in-law and schedule your “me-time” at least once every week. This way, you can use this time to decompress and breathe.
- Keep a healthy eating habit
A healthy diet will not cure PPD. However, it is important to fill your body with nutritious foods as much as possible. This is to keep your hormones at bay and your energy levels sustained. You can try planning your healthy meals for the week and prepare healthy snacks as well.
- Maintain an active lifestyle when given the opportunity
Being a new mother can mean that time for exercise will be scarce. However, research has shown that exercise can be a form of antidepressant for some women with PPD. Exercising doesn’t have to be heavy workouts, but taking a walk with your infant in a stroller is a good idea. Additionally, you can fit in at least 10 minutes of light to moderate workout a day for good measure. You can even try yoga and meditation to keep yourself centered.
- Rest whenever you can
Being told to get some sleep while the baby is sleeping can often be an impossible feat. However, it is a good idea to grab it when you get the chance. Studies have reported that women who achieved little sleep especially after giving birth can lead to depression. Since new infants are more likely to keep you awake all night, you can try taking short naps or going to bed early. For breastfeeding mothers, you can try pumping and storing your milk and get your partner to help you with feeding while you are asleep.
- Avoid situations where you find yourself alone
Being a new mother can often become a solo responsibility. This can make one isolated. It is a good idea to keep yourself surrounded by family members through this ordeal and talk about your feelings. In other scenarios, try looking for support groups with new or expectant mothers or go into therapy.
It takes a lot to become a mother. There can be plenty of ups and downs. However, it is worth everything when you realize the kind of achievement it can garner. So, mothers, you can do this!
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