Postpartum Depression is a mood disorder experienced by women after childbirth and lasts longer than 6 weeks. It is a period of depression where a mother experiences feelings such as guilt, shame, panic, fear of going out, fear of being left alone with the baby etc. These feelings make it very hard for the mother to connect with their child. Studies show that it affects about 15% of the childbearing population.
For the longest time, this disorder was surrounded by a lot of ridicule and shame. Many people hid in the shadows suffering in silence. The idea that you can fail to feel nothing but unconditional love for your newborn was unheard of. Today, there have been great strides in getting women to talk about it and getting courses for treatment. So what are some of the things you should know about postpartum depression?
It does not mean that you are a bad mother
Having postpartum depression does not qualify you to be a bad mum. It does not mean that you do not love your child. It is a mental disorder just like any other, once you are treated, you can go back to caring and loving your child like any other mother. Remember that motherhood is not easy. It is a big change for all mothers. Different mothers adjust differently to their new role. Just because this is your experience does not mean you are any less of a mother or are not cut out to be a mother.
Fathers experience it too
Fathers, though not as much as mothers, are prone to get postpartum depression. This may manifest itself as feelings of depression, irritability, or withdrawal from the family. Most fathers develop postpartum depression because they may feel disconnected to their child; they feel helpless and almost useless during the first few months after the baby is born. This is because, during the first few months of birth, the mother is the primary caregiver. The baby spends most if not all of their time on the mother’s arms either suckling or sleeping. Fathers may feel like they are missing out especially in forming a bond with the baby and this may throw them into postpartum depression.
It can be prevented
If you have experienced it before when having your first child, there is a high likelihood that you will experience it again. A study conducted on a number of pregnant women who had experienced postpartum depression revealed that there is a 46% chance that postpartum depression can reoccur. If this is the case, ensure that you communicate this to your OBYN. This will help him/her determine whether to administer antidepressants or take you through a series of counselling or therapy sessions to prevent it from reoccurring.
It is not caused by anything specific but there are risk factors
There are no direct causes of postpartum depression though there are factors in women that may indicate a high likelihood of getting it. These can include; previous cases of depression, family history of depression, birth-related trauma and external factors like stress. It is also important to note that it is also affected by hormonal changes either during or after the pregnancy.
It can be treated
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Postpartum depression is treatable. Treatment options range from medication to therapy. In the case of medication, the doctor prescribes medicines that pose no risk or threat to a pregnant woman or a breastfeeding mother. There are also self-care groups that one can be assigned to where women may feel free to be open about their experiences without fear of judgment. The idea is to figure out that you are not alone and that it is not something to be ashamed about.