When you become a mother, you face a series of expectations from your family, partner, and society. They make you believe that keeping everything under control and keeping what you feel to yourself is synonymous with strength. Little is said about emotions after giving birth, much less about postpartum depression.
Motherhood transforms you. The arrival of a life that depends 100% on you can be overwhelming, especially when you think that you will no longer be the same as before. If you add the changes in your body after childbirth and the ups and downs of emotions caused by hormones, you perceive yourself as very vulnerable.
Many women experience sadness after their baby’s birth. They may have mood swings, feel anxious, overwhelmed, have crying spells, lose their appetite, or have trouble sleeping. These feelings usually go away within a few days or a week of having the baby and are known as baby blues or postpartum blues.
However, the symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. The National Library of Medicine explains that the new mom can feel hopeless and helpless, leading to disinterest in her child.
A roller coaster of emotions
Many moms keep their emotions to themselves and don’t talk about postpartum depression for fear of being judged. Ani Cuartas, a lactation consultant, says, “Motherhood is a roller coaster of emotions; when your baby is born, on the one hand, you are happy, but you are also haunted by the thoughts that you will no longer be the same”.
People tell you, “You became a mother; your baby is healthy. Why are you crying? Why are you not happy? Why do you miss your old life? You feel like you are in a stadium, and all the lights are pointed at you; in the event of any failure, they point you out. It is a process that very few of us talk about, but it is very important to speak about it; motherhood is a roller coaster, full of emotions”.
Ani says that the love for your child is “the greatest you can feel on the planet”, but becoming a mother implies a reorganization of your activities and that your life will never be the same.
“These are normal things that happen to us due to hormonal change and due to grief, although the word sounds ugly. It is grief because our old self dies and a new self begins… Seeing your child be born, holding him in your arms is the most divine thing that can happen to you as a woman, but you do go through many hormonal, physical, and psychological changes”.
What is postpartum depression?
It is a severe affective mental disorder. Its main symptoms are sadness, high levels of tiredness, sleep disorders, and high cortisol levels, details the World Health Organization (WHO).
Postpartum depression is more common than you think; 1 in 7 women go through it during the first year of their child’s life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while in Mexico, it is estimated that 23% of women mothers suffer from it, reveal data from the National Institute of Public Health (INSP).
Remember that postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness or being a bad mother but is part of the change you go through when your baby is born.
Although there is no single cause of postpartum depression, the Mayo Clinic discusses some contributing factors:
- Physical changes: After your child’s birth, there is a drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. In addition, the decrease in hormones produced by the thyroid can lead to tiredness, laziness, and depression.
- Emotional problems: When you have not slept and feel overwhelmed, it can be difficult for you to deal with everyday situations, making you doubt your ability to care for your newborn, along with feeling less attractive and losing your identity or control of your life can contribute to postpartum depression.
When should you ask for help?
Mayo Clinic recommends that if symptoms persist or take on these characteristics:
- They don’t disappear after two weeks
- The worsen
- They make it difficult for you to take care of your baby
- They make it difficult for you to complete your everyday tasks
- They include thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby
It would help if you went to a specialist for proper treatment.
Translated by: Ligia Mabel Oliver Manrique de Lara