Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others
This is the official NHS definition of postpartum depression. It’s not far from what it is. Postpartum depression is many times invisible. As new mothers we fear of failure more than anything in the world.
Women gave birth since the beginning of time and nobody actually bothered with the mothers feelings after the baby comes. Everyone wants to see the little one, everyone is asking about the little one: is he/she sleeping? eating? crying much? colics? and all other millions of questions related to newborns. But nobody actually asks the mother: How are you feeling?
A mother is expected to feel happy, fulfilled, joyous and over the moon satisfied with her life. I mean, what can she complain about? How can a new mom feel sad? Seems absolutely insane.
Motherhood is lonely. Very lonely.
Your partner goes back to work after a while and you are left alone to deal with this tiny human who can’t do anything. You are responsible to keep the baby alive. You are expected to guess (and do it right) when baby needs to sleep, feed, needs changing, when baby is cold or hot, when baby has colics or other issues. In the same time you will put so much pressure on yourself in those first weeks and moths that you cannot remember when was the last time you had a shower/ washed your hair (this one is a killer – your mum bun will not be able to pull you on the side and tell you it’s time for a wash); when was the last time you could afford to drink a full cup of coffee without reheating it at least two times.
Being a new mother is so damn hard and because society is so backwards and shows us photoshopped lives, perfect mummy tummies and newborns who sleep through the night from day one, we will feel like utter failures. And the feeling will deepen every day and it will bring you anxiety, low self esteem, tears and depression.
But, what are postpartum signs? How do you know you suffer from postpartum depression and how you ask for help? Who do you turn to?
- overwhelming fatigue
- severe mood swings
- difficulty bonding with your baby
- excessive crying
- loss of appetite or the opposite (eating much more than usual)
- loss of energy
- insomnia or sleeping too much
- withdrawing from family and friends
- problems concentrating
- feeling hopeless
- feeling like you are failing as a mother
- feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- panic attacks
- thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- thoughts of death and suicide
Postpartum depression symptoms are much more intense then baby blues symptoms and they also last longer.
Untreated postpartum depression may last months and even longer, with symptoms aggravating in time. It also interferes with your ability to take care of your baby properly and daily tasks that you wouldn’t consider chores otherwise.
All these are symptoms but you don’t necessarily need to have them all to be suffering from postpartum depression.
Best way to find out is to seek for signs and also seek for help. Don’t be embarrassed,don’t feel ashamed or like a failure because you are not. You are just one woman who grew a human being inside of her for nine months, a woman who had the strength to give birth to her child (regardless of pain relief or not/ natural or C section), you are a woman whose hormones are running around inside her body with speedlight, a woman who is trying to figure out life with a human attached to her.
Call your doctor. Make an appointment and talk freely about it.
There is also the other option. Talk to a friend who had been through postpartum depression. Talk to someone close to you. Open up and find your smile again. It is so important to get help, specially if your symptoms do not disappear in less than two weeks.
Your mental health is so important. For you as a mother but also for you as a woman. Don’t let baby blues or postpartum depression take your happiness away.
Don’t fall into the social media crap that shows you perfect Susan as she is made up. One perfect picture hides at least twenty failed ones. One perfect nursery corner hides baby wipes on the floor, unfolded clothes and toys thrown all over.