Motherhood is one of the most important moments in the life of a couple. After childbirth, intense and contradictory emotions will be aroused in the mother, determined by changes in mood . This is influenced by: accumulated fatigue, insecurity, the responsibility that motherhood entails, happiness … and a roller coaster of hormones.
This emotional downturn, which is contrasted with the "joy" that you "should" feel, but need not worry, happens to a large percentage of women. It can last from days to a couple of weeks. In contrast, true postpartum depression usually appears later, with more intense, disabling and lasting symptoms .
It is not an attitude or is something that is chosen, and therefore it is important to know that the mother could not get out of it at will. Postpartum depression includes neurochemical and hormonal changes that will require the help of a professional and the support of your family and partner. It must be treated as soon as possible to avoid major problems.
Does Postpartum Depression Really Exist?
Society has generalized and trivialized the concept of postpartum depression, creating preconceived and confusing ideas, making mothers not dare to communicate or show certain feelings or moods .
Postpartum depression, also known as puerperal depression or postnatal depression, is totally different from the emotional lability or tiredness that 80% of women experience in the first weeks of their baby’s life . After childbirth, a large number of mothers experience what is known as postnatal dysphoria or in the Anglo-Saxon environment "baby blues".
These are feelings of sadness, increased by fatigue and hormonal imbalance. They are totally normal and disappear in a few days. However, there are cases, in which over time, this state of mind not only does not disappear but is accentuated, it is what is known as postpartum depression .
It is defined as a moderate to severe depression in a woman after giving birth and that can occur shortly after delivery or up to months later , most often occurring within the first three months. This mother’s partner or family should not blame or pressure her, it is counterproductive and will only help the mother hide her feelings, thus aggravating the problem. It should be borne in mind that this state of mind is not something that the mother can control and that the intervention of a professional will be necessary .
Causes and who is most at risk for it
Postpartum depression is the result of a combination of hormonal factors, changes in the body, the ability to cope with stress, genetics, and lifestyle . During the postpartum period, the body goes through a period of adaptation, which can affect moods such as sadness or fatigue. There are predisposing genetic factors, such as a family history of depression .
Physical changes after pregnancy can interfere with how the new mother feels and her self-image. Changes in lifestyle and accumulated fatigue also play a role . In addition to the changes at the level of the couple that adaptation to the new situation implies, the mother may experience anxiety about the new role and feel overwhelmed by the expectations that motherhood entails .
Postpartum depression affects between 10% and 15% of women after giving birth, although some mothers are at higher risk of suffering from it .
– Mother under 20 years of age.
– If before pregnancy you have suffered psychological disorders, such as depression, personality disorders or anxiety attacks .
– Family history of postpartum depression .
– The mother suffers additional stress due to personal or financial situation .
– Dependence on alcohol or other substances .
– High-risk pregnancy or complications during delivery .
– The baby has any disease , congenital malformation or condition that requires special attention.
Mild postpartum depression appears around the third day after delivery and usually lasts up to about four weeks . The usual symptoms are insomnia, sadness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and easy crying. It usually remits spontaneously since it is related to the sudden decrease in progesterone together with the adaptation to the new life with the baby. If you feel supported by your family, this state of mind will disappear without the need for intervention .
Postpartum major depression appears between 4 and 30 weeks after delivery . Symptoms are similar to those of depression but aggravated by maternity changes in the body and in lifestyle. The main symptoms are:
– Sadness and lack of energy .
– Excess or lack of appetite.
– Desires for isolation or feelings of extreme loneliness .
– Anxiety, anguish, fear and alterations in mood.
– Lack of interest in self-care.
– Sleep disturbances and irritability towards the partner and the baby .
– Feelings of guilt.
Feelings that may appear towards the baby
– Difficulty establishing attachment with the baby.
– She does not want to be alone with the baby because she feels incapable of taking care of him or, on the contrary, she worries too much , becoming overprotective (she bathes him excessively, she cannot leave him alone in a room …)
– Resentment towards the baby, blaming him or thinking about hurting him.
– Repentance of motherhood .
Don’t be ashamed of your thoughts
Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, another untreated complication of depression, can also manifest itself, leading to extreme fears. In most cases it manifests as an obsession with the hygiene and safety of the baby .
Tips for coping with the emotions of the first days
In the case of mild depression, symptoms will reverse on their own over time, although there are a number of guidelines that can help mitigate symptoms and reduce duration . The mother must have an emotional support network that allows her to focus on caring for the baby and herself. It is recommended to leave the house at least once a day and do moderate aerobic exercise such as walking.
You must be able to express your feelings and emotions, without the fear of being judged . It is important not to forget that taking time to adjust to the baby does not mean being a bad mother. This may require you to relax your preconceptions about motherhood. It is essential to find time for herself, going to the hairdresser or putting on makeup can be good therapy. Eat properly, a varied and balanced diet .
As soon as the mother begins to recover and organize herself better, the symptoms will diminish until they disappear . But if instead of seeing everything easier and easier, you see it uphill and the feelings get deeper and deeper, it may be a moderate or severe postpartum depression that should receive specialized medical attention.