Month: September 2020

Postpartum Depression: A Family Matter

 

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For many women, delivering a newborn is an amazing, happy, and often problematic time. But for those with post or peripartum depression, it could suddenly become quite stressful and tough. Postpartum depression is a severe but curable medical condition that involves emotions of severe sadness, anxiety, and indifference. It also manifests with changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and energy, and the mother and child may carry mild to moderate risks.

Women can also become sad or depressed while they are pregnant or just right after giving birth, and this is called peripartum depression. Approximately 1 in 7 women reported having experienced peripartum depression.

Pregnancy and the months after having a baby are an especially crucial period for women. Moms frequently complain of emotional, biological, social, and financial changes. Some of them are highly at risk of having mental health conditions, particularly anxiety and depression. This can be a difficult time for the whole family, and each member is affected as the light of the family suffers from these problems.

Undoubtedly, depression that is untreated during and after pregnancy is not only a challenge for the mother’s life but the baby and the entire family as well. Depression can affect the connection between the baby and their mothers, leading to feeding and sleeping problems for the newborn. Eventually, kids with mothers suffering from peripartum depression also become vulnerable to developing verbal, emotional, and cognitive deficits, including abnormal social skills.

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Symptoms of Depression

  • Extreme feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and worry
  • Fatigue and frequent tiredness
  • Appetite changes
  • Difficulty sleeping or waking up
  • Lack of affection or interest in her newborn
  • Feeling guilty about being a bad mom.
  • Fear of harming herself or her baby
  • Helplessness

Women who experience depression typically have several of the symptoms listed above, and the level of severity may alter at any time. A woman is diagnosed with peripartum depression, these symptoms must manifest within a month after delivery, although depressive symptoms can happen any time. However, if you or someone you are experiencing the mentioned symptoms for about two weeks, you should call your primary physician. You should also contact him or her if you are having suicidal thoughts, your depression is becoming worse, or if you are having difficulty performing activities of daily living.

Treatment

Many mothers do not tell their partners or family members when they are struggling with their pregnancy, but it is important to know that treatment for depression in the pregnancy stage and onwards is essential. More awareness and comprehension leads to more improved results for women and their newborns.

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Like other forms of depression, postpartum depression can be cured with medications, lifestyle modification, family and group support, psychotherapy, and a combination of these approaches. Pregnant women or those that are nursing must talk about the risks and advantages of taking medications with their obstetricians. Generally, the risk of developing birth abnormalities to the baby in the womb is quite low, and the result must be made based on the possible risks and benefits.

The APA guidelines for managing pregnant mothers with depression suggest psychotherapy without taking medications as the initial treatment, particularly when the depression is mild. For those with moderate to severe anxiety or depression, antidepressants must be considered the first line of treatment, as stated by the APA.

With the appropriate management, most of the new moms are relieved from their depressive symptoms. Those who are being managed for peripartum depression must continue their treatment until instructed by their primary physician to stop treatment. If treatment is abruptly stopped, the symptoms might recur.

Coping With Postpartum Depression

Family and friends’ support and encouragement, exercise, and balanced nutrition can be very helpful tools. Other recommendations for helping these women manage their depression during pregnancy include sufficient rest and relaxation, such as going out with friends or joining recreational classes.

For Family And Friends

Full support from spouses, family, and significant others is very vital. Some suggestions from the National Institute for Health include:

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  • Be aware of the signs. Family members and close friends must learn to identify the symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you see several of them in your loved one, encourage her to see her physician or a local health care provider right away.
  • Be there to listen. Let her feel that you are there for her, ready to listen to her concerns. You can ask her if she has trouble sleeping and what she usually does if she experiences this. Or just ask her how she’s doing. Sometimes it’s the small things we do that mean very much to them.
  • Let her know there is help. She might not be comfortable and does not want to ask for help, or she just doesn’t know where to find the help she needs. Let her know that you can go with her to the local health facility to talk to a professional. Learn about postpartum depression and talk to her about it. Offer to schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor. Make her feel that her family loves, supports, and needs her to heal.

 

How First-Time Moms Avoid Having Mental Health Issues

On the second day of my seven-day trip to Bali, Indonesia, my mother called and told me to come back to California immediately. Of course, I panicked and started packing my clothes while calling the airline to rebook my flight. Though Mom did not tell me why I knew she would not get in the way of my much-awaited vacation if it weren’t for an urgent matter. My only guess was that Dad’s high blood pressure went through the roof again, causing him to collapse (which already happened twice).

When I reached the airport, I called my mother to let her know when to pick me up. Then, I thought of asking, “What happened there?”

Mom explained, “John (my sister’s husband) was freaking out, saying that Celie (my sister) was too focused on their little boy ever since he got pneumonia.”

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Confused, I said, “I don’t see the problem. It’s normal for mothers like Celie to be like that.”

But Mom argued, “No, it’s not normal for mothers to avoid sleeping at night because they worry that something crazy will happen to the baby while they’re resting. That’s what your sister is doing, and she won’t listen to John or your father or me, so we’re hoping that she’ll listen to you.”

This news bothered me the entire flight back home. Celie had always been the mentally tough one between the two of us. But when she became a mother for the first time, she seemed unsure of her actions. I kept on thinking of what I should say to my sister when we meet, and I stuck with the following:

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Stop Feeling Guilty Every Time Your Child Gets Sick

The primary problem with first-time moms is that they experience terrible guilt whenever their baby coughs, sneezes, or, worse, become feverish. They keep on saying sorry to the infant while thinking of what they probably did to cause it. “Was the bathwater too cold?” “Did I give spoiled milk to my baby?” “Did we stay outdoors for too long?”

In reality, there can be a hundred and one reasons why a child gets sick, especially during infanthood. Their immune system is still not as strong as that of an adult or at least a teenager. If they have a fever or flu, it is not precisely your fault. All you can do is make sure to increase their immunity so that viruses and bacteria won’t affect them again.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up If Your Baby Falls On Their Own

Infants tend to roll or crawl as early as six months. When that happens, everyone in the family rejoices, considering it is a significant milestone that they have crossed. But if the baby falls on their face, the mother usually beats herself up for “not watching the child more closely.”

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 Think about that statement right now. Every time you let your baby crawl or roll around a mat, there is a high chance that you are also on the floor, ready to help them quickly. Still, some babies are more curious than others, in the sense that they want to leave the mat when you’re not looking. If they fall while doing that, it’s not because you have not taken care of them enough.

See Every Mistake As A Learning Experience

Many first-time moms read all the child-rearing books that they could get their hands on during pregnancy, hoping that they’d become experts at it before giving birth. But then the baby arrives, and they realize that they don’t know how to burp, bathe, or stop the infant from crying. Often, that makes new moms worry that they’re not good enough to look after their babies.

Well, considering you have made similar mistakes recently, try forgiving yourself for not knowing everything. That’s understandable because you have never looked after a child before, much less a newborn. Just learn how to do something correctly so that you won’t repeat the same mistakes next time.

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Ask For Help Sometimes

Some first-time mothers want to be able to say that they have raised their kids without anyone’s help. That is especially true for single moms who have had to stick it out after their partner left or their parents disowned them. However, the more you try to do everything on your own, the more your mental health may suffer.

A word to the wise: ask for help sometimes.

For instance, if you need to go to work on short notice, find out if a friend can babysit your infant. In case you run out of food or milk, and your friend is going to the grocery store, ask them to buy it for you. You should never be ashamed of needing help and asking for it because you can’t get anything done when you allow shame to rule your life. But if you are THAT shy, you may promise to return the favor anytime your friend needs help.

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Final Thoughts

My parents and I decided to spend a few days at my sister’s house to ensure that she won’t forget everything mentioned above. There was some resistance on Celie’s part at first, but when she finally got to sleep one night, she woke up with a much clearer perspective.

If a mother develops mental health issues while taking care of the baby, nothing good comes out. So, try to get your act together and follow our tips.