Postpartum depression is a long-lasting mood disorder that starts within a few weeks post delivery and can run up to 6 months post birth. PPD affects about 1-7 women and It affects both the mother and child. Motherhood comes a mixture of emotions; joy, happiness, fatigue, and worry which affect the mood pattern of the mother. Postpartum is a normal condition that can be treated if severe and managed at home if caught early.
How would you know you are suffering from postpartum depression?
If you are having trouble bonding with your baby and have a hard time accepting and loving your baby then it is a sign that you are depressed. While bonding with your baby should come naturally, for some mothers it may take a while.
When your “baby blues” last longer than they should. It is normal to feel down and overwhelmed by the arrival of the baby. In fact, it’s a common occurrence in all mothers the first few weeks after delivery because you are yet to settle into your new role. However, if weeks later you still feel sad and moody then you are experiencing postpartum depression.
If you are consumed with feelings of guilt. It is okay to feel guilty, sad and unhappy about being a mom but if you find yourself constantly consumed by these feelings then it’s a sign that postpartum depression is setting in.
You are unable to sleep. As a new mom, sleep is very important for your body and sanity. It is advisable that you sleep whenever your baby also sleeps so that you rest but if you find yourself unable to sleep or sleeping too much then it is a cause for alarm
You are indecisive. This can be as a result of mental fatigue or sheer lack of interest in anything. If you are having trouble making decisions, then it’s time to evaluate your state of mind.
You no longer enjoy the things you once enjoyed. It is normal to shelve your hobbies and interests with the arrival of a baby but when it gets to you losing interest completely in what you enjoy doing then postpartum depression could be knocking.
You are constantly worrying about being a good mom and doubting if you are doing things the right way or if you love your baby enough. Note that a little worrying is very normal.
You have thoughts of harming yourself or even your baby. Advanced postpartum depression brings about suicidal thoughts which are very dangerous. If such thoughts cross your mind, please seek medical help as soon as possible.
PPD is usually diagnosed by a health care provider so if you suspect that you are suffering from PPD; please seek treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will evaluate you and prescribe treatment that is best suited for you. PPD treatment ranges from psychotherapy, antidepressants or a combination of both.
How to cope with PPD
Being that you are a mother, you cannot take a break from motherhood to attend to your ailment. The best that you can do is learning how to cope with it. Try out these coping tips:
- Have some time for yourself
It may seem selfish to take time away from your newborn but it is important that you do even just once a week. You can leave the baby with your spouse, nanny or a trusted relative. Express some breast milk and leave for the baby to be fed in case they wake up before you are back. Just 2 hours outside the house every week is good enough. It can be so frustrating to be indoors all week, all month especially if previously you were working.
- Get enough sleep
Motherhood is just a tiring job not to mention with a newborn sleep may seem elusive but it is important that you sleep when your baby sleeps. Actually, this is a Science backed recommendation. A report from a research conducted in 2009 showed that women who did not get enough sleep are likely to experience postpartum depression as compared to those who slept enough. How much then is enough sleep? At least 4 hours of sleep at night and an hour of nap time during the day should be enough.
- Get some rest
Don’t overwhelm yourself with the baby and other responsibilities. Get some help so that you can have time to rest as well. You can hire a cleaner to help with the house cleanliness, a nanny to help with the baby or involve your other family members in taking care of the baby and other household responsibilities. Your body needs to rest for your mind to function well.
- Avoid Stress
This is a very delicate time for you and stress is the last thing that your mind can handle. If you can’t avoid stressful situations then learn how to handle the stress so that it does not weigh you down. Stress will quickly lead you to postpartum depression
This will relax your mind and body and make you feel good as well as lift up your spirits. Start some exercises in the house then progress to outdoor exercises like morning or evening runs. Remember to be gentle with the exercises until your body is able to handle them.
- Check your breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has such a calming effect on both the mother and the baby. I fact, a 2012 study shows that breastfeeding reduces the risk of postpartum depression up to the fourth month after delivery. However, some women report feeling more depressed when breastfeeding so if it does not work for you, find an alternative way of feeding your baby.
- Find a support group.
Thanks to technology, you actually don’t have to go out and meet other nursing mothers physically. You can find support groups on social media and online forums. Get yourself into one and share your journey with those who understand what you are going through first hand. A study by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry showed that sharing your feelings can significantly lift up your moods reducing your depressive symptoms.
AS soon as you suspect that you have postpartum depression, share it with your loved ones so that you can get help. It can be very dangerous if it is left untreated.