Pregnancy is a gift from God as is safe delivery.
Following the delivery of the baby, there are usually moments of mixed feelings for the mother, especially first-time mothers, as well as the rest of the family.
The story was no different in my case. Thanks be to God, after the usual problems associated with the first 3 months, my health vastly improved. I was a very active pregnant woman to the very day of delivery. I anxiously awaited the birth of my son.
The day finally came. It was uneventful until about 11 am when I started experiencing waist pain that seemed to travel into my thighs. My mum diagnosed labour🤩 and advised I stay hydrated and active… Just keep walking around the house she said… Obedient daughter, I set out on my forward march🤣. Long story short at about 9 pm, my son arrived and it all started.
I had a vaginal tear that had to be sutured. Pain relief was not adequate, to say the least. I cried throughout the procedure😭. The next day, all seemed well and we were discharged. Family and friends were over the moon with excitement. These were the days before COVID complicated our lives and so visits to a new mother were common. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, I could not share in their excitement. My eyes were almost always filled with tears and my heart was heavy. I would cry at the least provocation or worse still for no reason at all.
I went for my scheduled postnatal visits and saw my midwife and doctor but never disclosed it. I didn’t know what they would say…Would they tease me? Would they laugh at me? I just didn’t know but for some reason, I was hesitant to disclose my struggles🙁. All through these, my husband was supportive. Just taking in the tantrums in silence🤫 and supporting the care of the baby at night. I was suffering from baby blues. A more severe form is postpartum depression (PPD)
What is postpartum depression?
It is an intense feeling of sadness, anxiety, or despair suffered by a mother following childbirth that may interfere with daily tasks such as care for the baby or oneself. It affects approximately 10 to 15% of mothers but can go as high as 30% (Brummelte & Galea, 2015). This condition is usually common among new mothers and in some cases new dads too!
Paternal postpartum depression
Is this really true, you ask? Oh yes, it’s true💯 Men too can experience postpartum depression. Some studies even show that it may be higher among men. Averagely, 4% to 25% of men experience postpartum depression (Kumar, Oliffe, & Kelly, 2017). Interestingly, male partners of women who experience postpartum depression are more likely to develop PPD ( more like what women can do, men can do even better🤣)
What causes it?
Hormonal changes: Studies suggest that the sharp decline of pregnancy hormones may be responsible for PPD. (Brummelte & Galea, 2016)
Fatigue: The pressure of childbirth and care of the newborn associated with poor sleep has been associated with the development of PDD. (Wilson, Lee, & Bei, 2018)
Severe vaginal tears: Some studies showed that women with low resilience who experience severe vaginal tears are at higher chances of developing postpartum depression. (Asif, Mulic-Lutvica, Axfors, & Eckerdal, 2020)
Psychological adjustment to motherhood:
Lack of psychological support during the period after the birth of the child may also increase the chances of developing PPD.
What to look out for
These may include but not limited to;
Irritable: You are always on edge. Things that normally would have been considered trivial suddenly become important. You get angry and irritated over everything and nothing. More like waiting for someone to pour his sand in your gari🤣 then bam, Explosion💥 !!!!
Feeling of sadness /Excessive crying 😢: one may become a cry baby
Excessive eating or poor appetite: you either eat too much or too little
Loss of energy and interest: one may have little or no interest in activities that otherwise would have been exciting in the past.
Thoughts of harming oneself or baby 🤱: this is one of the serious symptoms to look out for.
What to do?
First of all, it’s not your fault that all this is happening to you so don’t keep blaming yourself for any reason. Seek help early. Most people who experience PPD, especially mild symptoms, will recover within 6 weeks even without help but severe symptoms can prolong even as long as one year or more so seek help early.
Report to your midwife or doctor. They in turn will assess you and then make further recommendations for a clinical psychologist or drug therapy. Women with mild to moderate symptoms will benefit from psychological treatment while those with severe symptoms will be better on drug therapy (antidepressants).
Finally, let’s support women who have postpartum depression to cope. Be there and offer a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on.
Don’t judge, they need your support.
Until I come your way next time, stay safe, and be a friend to a mother with PPD.🥰🤗