“A woman is complete only when she becomes a mother”. This quote is something that we often hear here in India. Indeed embracing motherhood is one of the most beautiful things in the world and having a life growing inside you is something beyond magical than words could ever describe. But one has to always remember that a woman goes through a lot of physical, emotional, and mental changes and challenges during her pregnancy and after childbirth. Although a mother always welcomes her child into this world with a great smile and tons of happiness and good luck wishes, there’s always pain behind that gorgeous smile, a fear that sometimes overpowers her joy. Today we’ll be addressing a mental health issue that has come to light recently and should be openly talked about, especially with a woman who has recently gone through the childbirth process or is about to bring a little life into this world- THE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION.
But first of all, what is Postpartum Depression?
Also known as Postnatal depression, this is a form of depression suffered by mostly new moms following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustments to motherhood, and fatigue. If not treated early, this can even lead to major depression in later life.
The symptoms of Postpartum Depression may include-
●Frequent mood swings including panic attacks, extreme fear or anger, anxiety, guilt, loss of interest, etc.
●Difficulty in bonding with the newborn
●Constant checking on weight and facial changes
●Loss of appetite
●Insomnia or going over thoughts etc.
Effects of Postpartum Depression:-
Apart from the mother getting affected by PPD, this can lead to a loss of interest in bonding with the newborn baby and other family members. In some cases, a mother has also committed suicide as a result of PPD and anxiety, and fear of nurturing the child appropriately.
As mentioned earlier, this can lead to major depression in later life if not treated at an early stage.
Why is the topic highlighted nowadays?
● NUCLEAR FAMILY CONCEPT 👪- Major factor why situations lead to postpartum depression nowadays is because of the concept of a nuclear family. Earlier or two or three generations before, women used to stay in joint families. And hence always had the guidance of elders towards the proper nurturing of the child. Nowadays since there has been an increase in the nuclear family trend, all the burden of the child single-handedly falls on the mother and hence the pressure of being a good parent majorly affects the woman leading to fear and anxiety.
●WORKING WOMEN- For a new mother who is also an employee, it becomes highly difficult to handle both office and child with other household duties. It becomes more vulnerable for a single woman if she has to go through all these just after childhood. Often there’s always a pressure of performing well in all the fields simultaneously and hence a fear of having the job and handling the child always revolves around her. As a result, some career-oriented women leave their jobs which further leads to a feeling of helplessness and being dependent on their partners adding more to PPD.
●SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS- Society always expects the new mother to be all happy and cheerful even if she has a lot of stuff going on in her mind. Even if she complains, she’s called dramatic or crying over something very common.
Welcoming motherhood may not be the same for every woman. Some women may experience PPD and some may not but that doesn’t make any woman a bad mother. Instead, her cries must be heard, her problems should be solved, her fear should be treated and her mind should be refreshed. Nowadays even gynaecs refer to psychologists for counseling after childbirth. This state of mind is something that should be given equal importance as other issues. So let’s all form a new world for the new moms where PPD is something that they can openly talk about without being termed as a bad mother or a woman who wasn’t prepared to have a child.
BAJMC 3rd year
Birla Global University, Bhubaneswar