POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: TREATMENT & CARE
Let’s face it, having a baby is stressful no matter how much you’ve waited and prepared for the arrival of your baby. The hormonal changes occurring in the body with the sleep deprivation, responsibilities, physical changes and lack of time for yourself can be a roller coaster for new mothers. This can often lead to postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a serious problem often leading to postpartum psychosis and needs to be addressed immediately. Here’s a comprehensive compilation on information about postpartum depression, treatment and care.
Can it just be baby blues?
Almost all moms go through the phase called baby blues, the symptoms for which are the same as those of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression & baby blues can cause mood swings, crying jags, sadness, insomnia and irritability. However, baby blues are perfectly normal and the symptoms go away in a couple of weeks.
The following are the red flags of postpartum symptom:
- Withdrawing from your partner or being unable to bond with your baby
- Uncontrollable anxiety that prevents you from sleeping or constant worry for your baby
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt, worthlessness, suicidal thoughts etc.
How to help yourself during postpartum depression
Coping mechanism 1: Create an attachment with your baby
Depressed mothers can be loving and caring with towards their child but not at all times. Depressed mothers sometimes don’t respond to their baby at all disrupting the binding process between the two.
Mothers and babies need a secure attachment with each other. Your baby’s brain growth depends on your communication and attachment with him/her. The emotional bond with your baby also helps your brain secrete endorphins – the happy hormones that help you feel happy too. You can slowly learn to connect with your baby through small activities that you will both love:
- Respond to your baby – when your little one cries soothe him/her
- Hold your baby for minutes together throughout the day
- Talk to your baby constantly and respond to his/her
- Read to your baby
Coping mechanism 2: create a support system
Human beings need social interaction that is positive and helpful. But, in the modern world, new mothers are often left alone to take care of themselves and have no supportive contact after childbirth. Following are some ideas for you to connect with others after childbirth:
1. Stay connected to your friends and family, even if you are an independent and introverted person. Isolating yourself can make you feel worse and helpless. Let your loved ones know that you need support.
2. Share what you’re experiencing with your loves ones. The good, bad and the ugly need to be shared for reassurance and support.
3. Find a support group with other mothers who are going through the same phase as you are. Your worries can seem trivial when you realise other mothers are going through the same worries, insecurities and feelings. Find support groups in your locality on social media.
Coping mechanism 3: Pamper yourself!
One of the best ways to fight postpartum depression is to take care of yourself. Simple lifestyle changes aimed at improving your mental and physical wellbeing can speed up your recovery:
1. Make yourself and your baby your number 1 priority. Give yourself time to concentrate on the 24×7 job you at hand. You can do this with sufficient help from loves ones.
2. Exercise every day, even if it’s a simple walk. Stretching exercises and yoga that you can do in the comfort of your home can do wonders!
3. Meditate for a couple of minutes every day. Mindful meditation can help you feel calmer and more energised to take care of your little one.
4. Try to get a full eight hours of sleep. It is not easy to get the sleep you want with the constant needs of your baby. The best way to catch some sleep is to sleep with your baby. Catch a quick nap whenever your baby chooses to.
5. Fins small ways to pamper yourself like taking a relaxed bath or savour a hot cup of tea or indulging in a massage.
6. Make meals your priority. Nutrition plays a big role in coping from postpartum depression too.
7. Sunlight lifts your mood and makes your baby stronger, Spend 10 to 15 minutes every day out in the sun with your baby.
Coping mechanism 4: Make time for your partner
A lot of marriages suffer after the birth of the child. Babies become the priority of the relationship and the partners themselves don’t give each other the time they need. Avoid the gap by still taking out time for your relationship. Always keep the communication lines open, do household chores together and take of your little one together.
Helping a new mother suffering from postpartum depression
If your loved one is suffering from postpartum depression, the best way you can help them is by constantly supporting them. Help them catch a break from childcare duties and pamper them a bit. Encourage her to talk about her feelings and make sure she takes time out for herself.
Professional treatment for postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is best treated when addressed immediately. Following are the ways postpartum depression can be professionally treated:
1. Counselling or therapy – a good therapist can help you deal with motherhood and can give you the mental support you crave
2. Antidepressants – your doctor may put you on antidepressants and closely monitor you
3. Hormone therapy – Estrogen replacement therapy or hormone therapy goes hand-in-hand with antidepressants
There are certain risks that come when undergoing hormone therapy. So be sure to talk to your doctor and clear all your doubts before taking it up.
Postpartum depression can be just another phase with the necessary support and care. Remember, you are not alone and help is always at hand. Here’s wishing you a happy motherhood!