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Post partum blues can really incapacitate a new mother. Here is the author’s personal account of the ways in which she combated these terrible times.
It was a week since I had delivered my twins, and I was having dinner in my room despite not having an appetite for it (because “You have to eat beta, you are feeding two”). My family was in the adjoining room having a casual conversation, when suddenly I overheard them discussing me.
“Why is she in such a low mood? It seems she doesn’t feel any love for her babies.”
“Yes, she doesn’t look happy at all. In fact, she is always on the verge of crying.”
“She is behaving strangely, she doesn’t even smile when she looks at her babies.”
“Why doesn’t she realize, she is so lucky to be blessed with twins!”
And on the other side of the wall, I cried again, for the nth time since I had come back from the hospital.
Postpartum mood disorders seemed to be a theoretical topic for me when I was posted in Obstetrics & Gynaecology during my internship. Any female acting frantic was jokingly said to be having PPP (post partum psychosis), while any female not willing to hold her baby or reluctant to breastfeed was presumed to be snobbish. It took me a twin pregnancy and massive hormonal turbulence to understand that all that we observed was not intentional.
Post Partum Depression (PPD) is the type of depression you may get after you have a baby, usually in the first 3 weeks but can appear upto one year. You feel overwhelmed with sadness, hopelessness and guilt, and you find it difficult to bond with the baby. PPD doesn’t just affect first-time moms. You can get it even if you didn’t have it when your other children were born.
There can be many causes. The sudden drop of hormones that you build up during pregnancy can trigger depression in some women. Personal or family history of depression, stress, or if you aren’t prepared to care for or support the baby, all can predispose you to PPD.
You may need to consult a doctor for counselling and treatment if it doesn’t improve in a week or two.
My husband had noticed these symptoms in me during the initial few days itself and my sister (being a mother of two young children) was extremely empathetic which helped my family understand my unique situation.
So here I list how I survived the post partum blues, hoping that it helps the fellow mommies.
Thanks to a supportive husband who understood that some space and time away from family and babies will help the new mom unwind, he took me out for dinner to a nearby joint during my 40 days confinement. I will be forever indebted to him for acknowledging that my mental health is as important as my physical health.
As soon as you deliver, the world surrounding you instantly turns from a mommy friendly place to a baby friendly place. The doctors, nurses, family and even you just have one thing on your mind that “Breast is best”. But breastfeeding is not a leisure walk. It is an acquired skill and takes time to master.
The initial few days are a real challenge for both the mother and the child. Just like you, even the baby is doing this activity for the first time.
So just relax those nerves.
My sister had given me a brilliant advice that “while breast feeding, make your best possible effort”. I would emphasise that please note it is ‘your’ best effort, so don’t compare it to anyone else’s. Also, ‘best possible’ implies that do what you think is possible in your scenario. If you are not feeling healthy or lack support, please excuse yourself.
So, Breast is Best but a ‘Fed Baby with a Happy Mother’ is better.
The first thing that accompanies being a mom is ‘Mom-guilt’. It is the perpetual sense of failing at doing what is best for your baby.
So, just learn to forgive yourself as you will need to practice this for the next two decades at least. We are just humans trying to do our job and failing at it will always be one of the two possibilities.
Though your appetite may be negligible, eat well. Never forget that you are recuperating from a major health altering event in your life.
Eat healthy and forget about those extra pounds for at least a few months.
Especially during the first 6 weeks, move to the house where you would get maximum rest and minimum stress. It can either be your own house or your mother’s. You need all the tender loving care in this new phase, even more than what you needed in pregnancy.
Do not shy away from expressing your feelings to your confidante for the fear of being judged. Seek help professionally if you feel the need.
This one thing works well for us introvert mothers who cannot survive without some alone time.
My mom knew it well that I need some time off to unwind from all the baby related work. She made it a point that from 7 am to 10 am, she would send me to a separate room to calm and collect myself for another hectic day and sleepless night.
I would like to conclude that my situation improved in 2-3 weeks without any treatment. However, if you feel your symptoms do not improve or are severe, please consult a doctor.
Eventually, ‘A happy mom means a happy baby’.
Published here earlier.
Image source: flickr, for representational purposes only.