As a new mother, what are you most excited about? What are you most worried about?
Most probably, on your mind all your answers revolved around your newborn. For example, you are excited about the first word the child will say (is it going to be mama or dada) whereas when the baby get sick, this is an instance that worries you lately.
Having a baby triggers a lot of emotions – joy, anxiety and fear to name a few – and surprisingly, feeling all of them at the same time is normal to a mother.
Bringing a new life to this world is no easy, fleeting task. With the pressure and lifestyle change that happen, a mother can feel extreme mood swings, insomnia and even crying spells. Indisputably, it is overwhelming to become a mother.
Postpartum Baby Blues
Postpartum baby blues happen when a mother feels weepy, lonely and exhausted. This lasts only a few days to a week after the baby is born. However, postpartum baby blues escalates to PPD if the mother manifests these symptoms for two weeks and longer:
- Fear (absurd as it may sound but this entails fear of not being a good mother and fear of being left alone with the baby that she might not fulfill the tasks of being a mother without any assistance)
- Feels disinterested in family, friends and sex
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Feels profound sadness and feeling worthless
- Experiences difficulty in focusing and making decisions
- Excessive irritability
- Panic attacks and scary thoughts
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or the baby
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
According to the American Psychological Association, Postpartum Depression (PPD) affects one out of seven women. Postpartum depression happens because of these two major contributing factors:
First is physical change as a woman’s production of estrogen and progesterone drops dramatically so as other hormones produced by the thyroid glands. These hormonal alteration causes depression, exhaustion and sluggishness.
Second is emotional issue. Since being a mom makes you “on call” for the duty, sleep pattern becomes disrupted and routines drastically change. This triggers thoughts that being a mother is an overpowering task followed by doubts of becoming a good and responsible one.
Aside from that, you might feel less attractive (because of the weight gain, sleepless nights and the very little time you have for yourself) and lost from your old, controlled self (it’s all about the baby lately).
There are three correlations between PPD and breastfeeding:
- A mother who suffers from PPD might be advised by her doctor to take antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications that might affect her milk quality and/or supply.
- PPD is related to troubled sleep patterns which can result to low milk supply hence the inability to breastfeed successfully.
- The guilt that a mother might feel if she stops breastfeeding (e.g. breast pains, low milk supply) might aggravate emotions that might result to depression.
When experiencing the symptoms of PPD, it is important NOT to keep your feelings to yourself. Instead, let your family (and your partner of course) and friends know.
As long as there is no judgment involved and there is constant reassurance coming from them that you can bounce back, sharing your thoughts should be a relief to the mother.
Aside from the emotional outlet, these people can certainly help you by assisting you in looking after the baby so you can attend to your personal needs. They also encourage you to get back in shape or to simply cheer you up and bring back that self-confidence.
Spending time with mothers who can very well relate to your plight is also a good starter to rebound from PPD. If symptoms still persist despite addressing the issue, please schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as you can.
Remember, NO mother should feel bad that she is unable to breastfeed her child for physiological let alone emotional/behavioral/mental reasons. Please bear in mind that it is a personal decision to breastfeed or not.
It is every mother’s duty to look after herself first to ensure that she gives a hundred percent of herself to the ones who need her most.