Sowmya’s post-partum journey
It was going to be Sowmya’s ninth month into pregnancy in next two days. She was expecting her first child. The whole family was ecstatic about this. Sowmya was getting first class treatment not just from her husband , in laws but also from Neighbors and strangers alike . Thinking about those past nine months brought a radiant smile to her face :).
And today was the D-day. Sowmya delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Everyone was celebrating. Of course, Sowmya was also very happy to hold her bundle of joy in her arms and to be able to caress him. She looked forward to do all those things with her baby that she had seen in those cute baby pics on social media.
She didn’t even realize how her first night with her beautiful baby had turned from a night of joy into a sleepless, exhausting night. She fed the baby and held the baby tight to her chest, mindful of not “crushing” him while she slept. Each time her restless sleep gave in to the innocent hungry cries of her little child, she would instinctively pick the baby up and comfort the baby.
Her first sleepless night soon turned into second, third and then weeks of sleepless nights. Initial joy of being a first time mother was soon replaced by unending tiredness with no respite in near future. Change in hormones was not helping much too. Family was supportive as before but she wondered to herself -“ no one can do the job of a mother!” Although she accepted help but with apprehensions.
Aching muscles, tired body, confusions, chaos drained her emotionally too. And one night while feeding her baby she started having these voices to throw the baby. The voices grew louder and louder in her head. She couldn’t take it and in rush of those feelings, she was about to throw the baby .. when her husband noticed it and intervened.
It was as if someone woke her up from a nightmare.
She was engulfed with immense guilt and shame. Unable to share her feelings with anyone, she started staying more in her head space constantly bothered by her inner nagging voice – “what kind of mother you are!!, you don’t deserve a baby, throw the baby”. The struggle was real and hope was no where in sight. She cried for hours and hours.
This went on for days. Loving and vigilant family noticed the changes not just in Sowmya’s mood but also her irritability, lack of interest in activities, poor appetite and her negative feelings towards the baby. Although they understood that everyone has good and bad days but they were not able to ignore the fact – that in Sowmya’s case, the symptoms were there most of the days and were not getting better.
The family decided to seek professional help. Initially reluctant Sowmya finally gave in to family’s request which turned out to be the best decision of her life. She underwent psychotherapy along with medications and in few weeks her symptoms started to subside.
She began to eat well and asking for help in managing the baby during the night so she doesn’t have to do it alone. Her irritability vanished and in no time she was on her road to recovery.
How many of us can relate with this story – if not in totality, may be to some parts. Postpartum depression is real and so is hope and recovery.
It often develops within the first few months after giving birth, particularly in the first five weeks. However, it can start at any time during the first year. Depression can suddenly creep up or it could even have been there during pregnancy and continues even after child birth.
We need to understand that PPD not a character flaw or a weakness. Also it’s different from ‘baby blues’- sadness which subsides in few days. There’s no one cause of postpartum depression, but these physical and emotional issues may contribute:
- Hormones. The dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone after you give birth may play a role. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply and make you feel tired, sluggish and depressed.
- Lack of sleep. When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems.
- Anxiety. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn.
- Self image. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity, or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression.
There’s an immense need to understand this before one embark on this beautiful journey of pregnancy and childbirth. It’s good to take preventive proactive actions so we may be able to take necessary steps to ward off the repercussions and can fully enjoy motherhood :).