They deserve a better treatment

Recently came across this news on an open platform for the mom community –
\\\”FDA approves first pill for Postpartum Depression\\\”

Does this term ring a bell? POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION! Apparently, it affects 1 in 7 women who give birth. And its a huge number. Still, this is something that is very conveniently brushed aside as \\\”an overwhelmed new mom\\\” syndrome. Like every other form of depression. Several people and organisations are tirelessly working to create an awareness about the importance of watching out for the people going through the mental health issues and yet, even in urban or educated class of families, these issues are not even taken seriously.

I know that I am not a certified psychologist but I am one of those several women who have gone through the pregnancies and the depression that followed and I have read a lot of articles (not just FB or Insta posts, just saying) that spoke about how the PPD looks like.

A woman who conceives a child automatically go through several hormonal changes which supports the pregnancy and postpartum stage to bear the child. The side effects of these hormonal changes are not only physical but emotional and mental as well. Thats why, old people would always tell a new \\\’father-to-be\\\’ to keep his wife happy during pregnancy. However, what majority of the people forget is to take care of the mothers once they have delivered the baby.

In one of the reports, a lot of women said that they suddenly felt \\\’lost\\\’ after the delivery as everyone was busy celebrating the baby and they felt like a piece of furniture sitting alone in the corner of the room with oversized diapers, bleeding, swollen breasts, wearing cloths that smell of milk, poop and pee. Like, nobody cared. That was one of the earliest triggers of PPD for them. The family and \\\’well wishers\\\’ would take the baby and enjoy. But when it came to burping or changing diapers or feeding, they were sent back to the mothers and then taken back. This is done almost subconsciously.

Keep a hand on your heart and think of how many times you have first asked about how a new mom is feeling before seeing the baby? How many of you have taken the new baby in your arms to burp or put them to sleep with the intention of giving some rest to the mom and not just because you wanted to have a look at the newborn? How many of you have been thoughtful enough to extend a helping hand with the baby so that the mom can take a long relaxing hot water bath or at least freshen up in the evening?

Why is it always – \\\”quickly eat your food while the baby is sleeping\\\”? Why? Let the mom eat at leisure. If the baby wakes up, kindly take the baby in your arms for some time. Some times the babies do wake up just because they have had enough of sleep or they are feeling too hot or too cold. Not everytime the reason is that they are hungry.

There is a lot to change and its not going to happen 100% or even within only a few years. Its going to be a massive shift in mindset to look beyond the happy giggles of the newborn and look at the tired mom.

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So what can be done? I am no expert but as a mother of two who had gone through tough times after the arrival of my little ones, here are a few steps that can be helpful before the ultimate rescue through medicines –

1. Awareness – as part of the regular checkups during pregnancy, why not include counselling session for the parents-to-be and their immediate circle of caregiver to know what the symptoms of PPD and how to be mindful and helpful to the new moms? I know, several people will just take it as another session that can be conveniently ignored. It might look just going a little too much but make it a mandatory session if you would want to avail the hospital\\\’s or nursing home\\\’s services for checkup and delivery.
The thing is that till we are not aware of the symptoms, you won\\\’t even realize that you are going through PPD and that the medicinal help is needed (and so this newly approved drug). Do we even see a doctor if we don\\\’t realize that our symptoms are those of, say breast cancer? And if we don\\\’t see the doctor and get ourselves examined, will we even take the medicines available in the market to treat it?

2. Acceptance – many women understand that they are going through PPD but are brushed aside by their partners or caregivers as just an \\\’overwhelmed\\\’ and \\\’tired\\\’ mom who will become better over some time. Take it seriously. Help them. Listen to them. Don\\\’t we take our babies for regular vaccinations? We do. On the dates when doctors have told. Use the same visits to let the mothers also go through a counselling checkup by experts to assess any symptoms of PPD.

3. Give care and time offs to moms – several husbands site their offices as their reasons for not helping moms with the baby duties. First of all, even with the office, you have now become a father. Your responsibility does not end once you make the woman pregnant. Once your office is over, it might be a stretch but do it and take over the baby duties. Play with the baby. Feed the baby. Use your weekend. Except breastfeeding, practically every baby job can be done by everyone else (unless there is any physical limitation).

4. Mindful use of language – its a really long shot and practically not possible as we have grown up with a particular setup where mindful use of words and conversation is an absolutely new thing and to expect the entire race to adopt this way of talking is unrealistic. However, as much as possible, stay away from giving unsolicited advice or talking about taking the baby away from the mother, even if it is just a joke or making the mother feel as less just because of low supply of breastmilk or some mistake. She was not born as a mother. She is learning.
Trivia: \\\’stress\\\’ is the biggest (and quickest) factor to drastically reduce the breastmilk supply. Just saying.
I have seen mothers-in-law and elderly ladies who keep on stressing about breastfeeding and cribs when there is an apparent less supply. However, conveniently ignore their own contribution towards it. Yes. Good nutritious timely food, less stress, ample sleep and rest – all these contribute to a good breastmilk supply.

As I close this blog, I would give a thumbs up to introduction of this drug. However, I so wish that mothers get better treatment from their families to not even reach the stage of using a drug to feel better as a new mother.

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