Having a baby it’s a wonderful experience.....most of the time. Facebook, Instagram and society in general try to convince us, sometimes irrationally, that something is wrong with women who do not feel the joy and gratefulness when they become mothers. They then stay alone with the feeling of desperation and sadness after giving birth. Today we are going to talk about Postpartum Depression.
The symptoms of postpartum depression start generally right after delivering and include sadness, mood changes, lack of appetite, crying spells, difficulties attaching to your child, sleep issues, inability to enjoy maternity, anger, guilt, thoughts of harming the baby, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, and hallucinations.
The cause of postpartum depression is not clearly understood, but there are certain factors that correlate with its appearance such as physical changes. After delivering there is a decrease in Estrogen and Progesterone which may contribute to depression. Other hormones produced by the Thyroid also decrease abruptly which may contribute to tiredness, dizziness, concentration issues and sadness.
On top of that, many mothers feel familial and culturally pressured about how they should feel and take care of their new child. The relationship with their partners also changed when a new baby arrives and it is not uncommon the presence of feelings of resentment and personalization of problems exacerbated by the lack of time, sleep and space for effective communication.
One of the most common issues that I have seen in my private practice is that new mothers are sometimes convinced that their newborn is not safe with them. They feel so insecure about the care they can give to the baby that they prefer not to do it for fear to hurt them. This feeling is very invalidating for mothers and make them feel very inadequate.
Although is not possible to predict postpartum depression, some indicators have been proven to be useful predictors of it appearance. For example, a previous postpartum depression episode, history of depression in general, stress, health issues with the mother or the baby, difficulties breastfeeding, unplanned pregnancy, etc.
How to prevent it and what to do?
If you had had depression in the past, communicate this to you doctor right away when you get pregnant. That way your doctor can monitor the symptoms and medicate, if necessary, before or after delivery. Establish a support network with people you feel safe and not judged by. Look for information about postpartum depression from credible sources and stay away from “recipes” in Instagram and Facebook. Rest, try to sleep, eat healthy, exercise little by little, however you can, without asking too much from yourself but asking enough. Accept that becoming a mother is a transcendental change that will require rethinking and reorganizing your life. Understand that the fact that your parents or grandparents never talk about this does not mean they did not go through the same, but that they probably did not feel safe enough to talk about it. Finally, remember that a therapist is always a good choice to find safe and confidential space for acceptance and education.
She is Cuban living in Texas, Licensed professional counselor supervisor at therapy works, specialized in anxiety and depression, specializing in adult adolescents and couples.
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