You’ve been waiting for close to nine months to see your baby and finally she’s here! Everyone in your family is excited and happy. Everyone, that is, except you. Maybe you feel tired and exhausted – after all, giving birth to a baby is no piece of cake! Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the whole process, especially if it is your first time. Perhaps you feel weepy and emotional – who wouldn’t feel emotional the first time they see their baby! But all through this, you’re wondering…if having a baby is supposed to be such a happy occasion, why am I feeling so low?
You’re not alone. Many new mothers feel overwhelmed and exhausted after giving birth. It is normal to experience a little moodiness, anxiety and sleep disturbances for the first two weeks after a baby is born, after all, learning to take care of your cute little bundle of energy takes some getting used to. With a little sleep and a helping hand, most mothers begin to feel better after a few days. If, however, you continue feeling low during the first two months after your baby is born, you may be suffering from more than just baby blues…you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Several things may contribute to postpartum depression symptoms. Sometimes, a dramatic drop in the hormones in your body just after the baby is born may make you feel tired and depressed. When you’re sleep deprived, any little thing can seem overwhelming. You may feel anxious about your ability to take care of a new born baby and about all the lifestyle changes that you will need to make. The support or lack of support that you have from your partner and family may also contribute to a lot of the negativity.
So, how do you know that you have postpartum depression? During the first two months after your baby is born, if you consistently feel irritable or hypersensitive, find it difficult to concentrate on anything, feel anxious, worried or angry all the time and have negative feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and guilt, chances are that you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Other symptoms include a loss of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed, difficulty in sleeping, a change in your eating habits and patterns and a constant feeling of fatigue and exhaustion.
All through this, it helps to know that postpartum depression is not a character flaw or a weakness. It can be managed and treated. Once you start feeling better, you may begin to enjoy a whole new bonding experience with your baby!
Apart from seeking professional help, there are a few things that you can try at home to cope with your depression and anxiety.
Do NOT feel guilty – Many mothers feel guilty for being sad and depressed. Well-intentioned advice from relatives and friends may also make you feel like you’re not doing enough. Just remember, managing a baby 24/7 is not an easy task. Stop beating yourself up!
As with any kind of illness, treatment is the best course of action and depression treatment is the first step towards a better you. A counsellor or a doctor will be able to help you get through this tough time and suggest the right course for the treatment of depression. Once you start feeling better, you will find these negative feelings diminishing. You will be able to enjoy a better relationship with your baby and you will be able to cope better with all the joys and frustrations that are a part of this glorious journey of motherhood!