The entry into motherhood is one of the most amazing and happiest life-changing experiences, but it can also be a stressful and challenging one. While it is common and typical for new moms to feel anxious about the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead of them and their newborn infants, excessive worrying and feelings of anxiety are detrimental and can greatly jeopardize the intimate relationship between a mother and her baby.
According to a research study, postpartum depression (PPD) - also known as post-natal depression or more commonly, severe baby blues - affects as high as 13% of all mothers. This is due to a sharp decrease in estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormones following the birth of a child. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding the various steps to take to overcome the blues can help you be on your way to develop a close-knit connection with your baby.
"I'm pretty sure I don't love my baby."
Sufferers of postpartum depression often feel that they are missing a bond or connection with their newborn. Have you ever felt the desire to hurt yourself or your baby? Or do you harbor suicidal thoughts and become increasingly isolated and lonely? If you've answered "yes" to these questions, you may have postpartum depression.
Most notable cues of postpartum depression include having difficulty sleeping, recurrent sadness, loss of appetite and interest in life, feelings of fatigue, hopelessness, frustration and guilt. Sometimes, these symptoms may develop into something even more serious, as sufferers constantly find themselves getting frantic or paranoid over the smallest things.
Take the first step
First and most importantly, remember that you are not alone. If you realized that you are suffering from severe bouts of baby blues, start by taking concrete steps to combat and treat your depression. Leaving the condition untreated and hoping that the situation will improve is not going to help and will eventually worsen it further.
1. Get support
Your spouse, family and friends are concerned of your well-being. Do not feel ashamed to confide and seek support from your loved ones - especially the baby's father. Tell him exactly what you are feeling, and allow him to play a key role in helping you through this period of depression.
External support resources and services are always around to help you cope. Seek out a postpartum depression support group. Although it may seem difficult to share your story with strangers when you first met them, you will soon find that many moms are experiencing the same feelings, negativity and issues you do. Use the support of a close community of empathetic moms to work together in achieving common goals.
2. Ask for assistance
It is almost impossible to accomplish everything by yourself, because chances are, you will eventually be burnt out by a seemingly never-ending workload. If you are unable to cope with the accumulated pile of unwashed laundry and greasy dishes because you need to tend to the 24/7 demands of your newborn, asking for additional help from your spouse, mom, or even your best friend will help to ease your burden.
Always try to allocate some time a day for yourself. Energize yourself by doing the things that relaxes your mind such as listening to your favorite music or watching your favorite TV program. Get some me-time by heading out with your friends or simply be by yourself. A refreshed 'you' will naturally be able to handle your stress in a healthier manner.
3. Dismiss the myths of motherhood
If you are a new mom, you might have heard (and believed) tales of how you will instantly bond with your newborn, that you will feel constant 'gooey' love for your baby, and it is no sweat to lose the baby weight after pregnancy - all these amongst many other myths.
It is time to break away from these fictional myths! Bonding isn't always instantaneous. Like any relationships, the bond develops over time. Do not fret if you take longer than other moms - it will eventually come as you get to know your baby and s/he get to know you. It is also normal to occasionally feel tense, tired and annoyed by your baby's constant cries. You are not a bad mom. Do not let anyone judge you as one. You know you love your baby and you simply need a break from your baby from time to time.
4. Seek professional help
If your PPD symptoms are not alleviated in these healing options, it is important that you seek some form of psychological treatment from a professional therapist. Effective medical forms of PPD treatment include antidepressants, hormone therapy, psychotherapy and counseling.
The sooner you begin your treatment, the quicker you're able to experience a full recovery. Babies of postpartum depressed moms tend to be less attached to their mothers and lag behind in developmental milestones. Take the first step today to help yourself and your baby.