When my son was born, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of joy and love for the little one, unlike anything I had experienced before. In a couple of days, that feeling changed to one of anxiety, exhaustion and irritability, and it was beginning to get difficult to enjoy time with my baby or explain to anyone what I was feeling and why.
Time seemed to be moving in a never-ending loop of feeding-cleaning-putting the baby to sleep-repeat. Thankfully, a dear friend stepped in to check on me and helped me with my journey out of baby blues, a more severe form of which is called postpartum depression.
I then realised that postpartum depression among new mothers is fairly common and rarely discussed. In our society, depression is either taken casually and considered nothing more than a temporary bad mood and is completely ignored if it is more serious. Both these approaches speak a lot of the ignorance about mental health issues in our country.
Watch this beautiful video on postpartum depression and challenges faced by a new mom.
Post delivery, a woman’s body and mind undergo profound changes – most of us do not look like our old selves and can’t be carefree in the same way we were before baby. Our baby is now foremost on our minds. However, we face immense pressure to look like our old selves days after popping out a baby and are constantly bombarded with images of celebrities who went on to wearing bikinis, days after having a baby – completely devoid of any mummy tummy, stretch marks or double chin.
Psychologically, being a mother is even more challenging. Yes, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing our little one’s smile and seeing him/her grow. The other side is rarely discussed – new mothers are often tired, irritable or cranky, low on confidence and can suffer frequent mood swings.
While some of the more serious and prolonged cases need medical intervention, we as a society can take a few small steps to make her days brighter.
#1. Step in to help if you can. Irrespective of your age or gender, have a friendly chat with a new mother, make her a cup of tea/coffee if you have the opportunity. New mothers in a nuclear set-up sometimes have no one to even have a normal conversation with for days. A small friendly conversation can surely lift her spirits.
#2. Refrain from making comparisons. Every mother has a different set of constraints and is trying her best for her children, be it a working woman or a homemaker. Before you compare, try to step into her shoes.
#3. Refrain from judging a new mother even if you do not approve of her parenting style. She is not seeking your approval, though kindness would be nice.
We spoke to a few moms who have experienced postpartum depression and this is what they said helped them:
#4. Indulge in some “me time”: We know this is easier said than done as this comes with heaps of guilt, but just an hour or two each week for yourself while someone trustworthy watches over your baby is doable. Do what will relax you – visit the salon, go to a coffee shop or indulge in some shopping.
#5. Seek help and delegate: As mothers, we take it upon ourselves to do everything for the baby, especially since we think we know best. However, there is more that needs your attention than just baby care. Do not shy away from seeking help and welcome it in any form – be it friends or family offering to step in to take care of your baby while you step out to take care of other things.
#6. Make full use of technology: If your budget allows, install the baby monitor or CCTV for your peace of mind.
#7. Plan a date with your partner and more importantly with your female friends who will listen to your sob stories and make you laugh.
#8. Keep updated: What I realised after having a baby is that we, mothers, tend to fall behind in terms of knowing what is happening around us in the world be it the latest in technology or fashion. That can make social settings a little difficult for us. As soon as the conversation moves away from babies, we find ourselves a little lost. Our confidence goes for a toss. So mommies, spend some time each day browsing informative websites (step away from WhatsApp and FB please).
#9. Exercise: Make time to exercise for a couple of minutes each day as research proves exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones. Not only will you feel good, you’ll start looking good too.
Want to know more about Postpartum Depression? Click here
We know having a baby is possibly the biggest DIY project we mothers undertake. Raising children takes every bit of our being – our heart or patience, our foresight and most of our time.
Some mothers might seem to sail through it, but privately each one has her own challenges. However, if you feel that your cloud is a bit darker and taking longer to lift, do not hesitate to discuss this with your family or friends and seek medical help. Remember, one mother speaking paves the way for others to speak up.
The following video talks of postpartum depression in a heart touching manner.