11 Truths About Postpartum Depression
#PostpartumDepression (PPD) feels a bit like that monster under your bed that creeps up on you when you least expect it. Just yesterday you seemed to be that bonny pregnant mummy-to-be, who couldn’t wait to cuddle up her newborn, and almost overnight you seem to have transformed into Cinderella’s sister, who doesn’t want anything to do with the gorgeous little baby sucking up all your energy.
Each woman experiences #PPD in her own way, often alone, swathed in a fog of self-doubt, intense guilt and helplessness. New motherhood can be daunting for most mothers, but add #PPD to the mix of sleepless nights, utter exhaustion, soreness and hormonal surges, and you’ve got a situation that can seem like you’re stuck at the bottom of a well.
Here’s what I discovered when I suffered from a bout of #Postpartum Depression (PPD) that lasted almost 9 months.
1. You may feel a sense of disconnect with your baby.
Your baby may be the cutest little cherub that you may have laid eyes on, but where others are melting into puddles of chocolate at the very sight of this little being, you feel absolutely nothing. You desperately want to feel that overwhelming love, that tenderness, but all you can come up with is a black hole of nothing.
2. You may not want to hold your baby, rock him, talk to him.
Till the baby was born, you couldn’t wait to hold him in your arms. You’d imagined those early days in your head, your precious little baby ensconced in your arms. But ever since you started feeling that disconnect, you just do not feel like holding him close. You’d rather let your husband or your mom do all the holding and rocking and cooing.
3. You may not want to be left alone with your baby. In fact, you are mortified of being left alone with your bub.
You just don’t feel competent enough to mother your baby alone. You’re not sure what you’ll do with your baby. “What will I do if he starts crying?” “Am I supposed to hold him?” “Gosh, I don’t feel any connection with this wrinkly little being!” These might just be some of the thoughts racing through your mind, with you bordering on panic, when you’re left alone in your home or room with him.
4. You may not find yourself sobbing throughout the day or having suicidal thoughts.
Women who have PPD experience a whole gamut of symptoms like suicidal ideation, rage, fatigue, insomnia and irritability. But new moms with PPD may experience all of the mentioned symptoms or just a few of them. So, if like me, you don’t find yourself crying or feeling suicidal, that doesn’t mean that you do not have PPD. Let this not stop you from reaching out for help because how each woman experiences her version of “the fog” can just be as different as each woman.
5. You may start feeling the onset of your PPD, weeks or months after your baby was born.
Just because it happened many days after your munchkin was born, doesn’t rule out PPD at all. For me, it happened two weeks after the birth of my baby, when I brought him home from the NICU. For other new moms, PPD might happen 1, 2, 3 or 6 months after they gave birth. It is important to remember that PPD can happen anytime during the first year of your baby’s life.
6. Breastfeeding cannot prevent PPD.
There’s a myth that breastfeeding prevents PPD. And as beneficial as breastfeeding can be, what I and several moms who waded through PPD can tell you is that breastfeeding need not prevent PPD. I breastfed my son for 13 months; sometimes 20 times each day during the first few months. But I still had PPD.
7. Having a lot of family support cannot prevent the onset of PPD.
It’s true that when you have a lot of support and help after the birth of your child, you’re less likely to develop PPD. Or so, it’s believed. This was the myth that I had bought into with fervor. I had my parents, in-laws and my husband, helping me through the intense post-birth period. But as much as I believed that with so much of support I wouldn’t get PPD, my body and mind were telling me something else.
8. You don’t have PPD because you had the luxury of time.
Whether you have help or not, whether you’re a first time mom or second time mom, whether you have a lot of support or not much, let’s face it, mothering in the first year is as intense as it can be. So, if someone ever says something like “I never had the time to be depressed” (yes, you’ll hear things like that sometimes), don’t believe this because it’ll only make you miserable and guilty over a bunch of words that you’d rather leave behind. PPD isn’t the byproduct of a lot of free time. I can promise you that.
9. You’re not a bad mother. I repeat, you’re NOT a bad mother.
You may often feel like an incompetent mom because of the lack of connection that you feel with your baby, the overwhelming fatigue, the panic that sets in when you’re left alone with your child. But you’ll see that when you emerge from this all-engulfing fog called PPD, you’ll be the kind of mother you were meant to be. I do not mean a perfect mother because that really is another big fat myth, but the kind of mom your child will thrive with.
10. You can talk about PPD and reach out for help.
I know from personal experience that it’s very difficult to talk about PPD when you’re in the throes of it. And a lot of those whom you talk to about it, may not completely understand or be able to lend you their support. Also, not everyone knows what PPD exactly is. For instance, another mother asked me if I had PPD because I had to take a break from writing when my baby was born. But in spite of all this, know that you can talk about it. There will be people who’ll understand, and you can reach out for medical and emotional help.
11. And lastly, you will be out of this neck of the woods for sure. Give yourself time, be gentle on yourself and reach out for help.
Call to action: If you feel you have #Postpartum Depression or have a friend, who might be wading through it, then do reach out for help or to help. Consult health care practitioners and holistic care practitioners to get the kind of help that you’re most comfortable with.
Stay tuned for the second part of this article by a guest writer & mom about simple ways that helped her deal with postpartum depression.