- This too shall pass.
- It is a matter of time.
- Once they are a little older, things will fall in place.
- The babies are still small and they need you.
Yes, the babies did need me. But no one talked to me about the baggage that comes with parenting. If there were a manual on parenting, I would have read and re-read it to prep myself for the hurdles and everything else that followed with parenting. Coping with postpartum depression or even talking about postpartum depression was unheard off. Maybe, I was just over-reacting and overwhelmed!
A colleague called me and said, “I won’t ask you how are the boys doing, I want to know how you are doing?”. That call was from an ex-boss and it took me a while to sink in that someone did want to know how I was coping with motherhood, instead of gushing over how lucky I was to have two babies at one go. I remember that conversation and it has stayed with me in these 12 years of parenthood.
Coping with postpartum depression
As new mom, you’ll will spend countless blissful hours in awe of your baby. But for some of us, motherhood comes with loads of emotional strains; some of which can go unnoticed. Most new moms will fail to recognize the underlying symptoms of postpartum depression or any other mental health issues and will struggle to cope or find help with it.
When I knew I was expecting twins, I was sure that I would give my parenting a priority over my corporate career. Little did I know that it was going to be the start of an arduous journey that would play havoc with my mind and question my abilities.
Life was mechanical when it came to looking after the boys, so much that I had zero time to even indulge in things that I loved the most – writing and catching up on reading. My life revolved around the boys and while it was natural, there were instances when I was plagued with intense anger and jealousy when I saw my peers soar in the careers while I was listening to nursery rhymes in a loop.
Recognizing the symptoms of postpartum depression
While I knew such symptoms and mental illness related to new moms existed, I took way too long to understand that I did suffer from postpartum depression and take measures to prevent it. So what are the tell-tale signs of postpartum depression?
The baby blues last on for longer than usual
It is perfectly common to have those crests and troughs in your mood as a new mom. They are commonly known as baby blues. It can last up to a month post your delivery. After that, you should feel better. But, if you are still feeling sad and hopeless even weeks later, questioning your parenting abilities and the feelings are intense, it’s no longer the baby blues!
Consumed by guilt and sadness
Feeling upset once in a while is normal. If your outbreaks are frequent or you are constantly unhappy or often “down on yourself” as a mom, don’t ignore it. This is a classic symptom of postpartum depression. A feeling where mums feel they aren’t good enough or aren’t doing their best for the baby.
Am I a good mother?
I would be worried sick that I wasn’t a good mom! Twelve years later, I am sometimes still consumed with the guilt that I am not a good enough parent! If you have constant doubts about yourself as a mother, it could be postpartum depression.
You think of harming yourself or the baby
I never got to this point, but then there are others who do! Thoughts of suicide, or hurting yourself or your baby, are advanced signs of postpartum depression. These can have long lasting affects on your psyche and could lead to a battle of depression that can last years or your lifetime.
You cannot take simple decisions
Oh boy, I have had these phases! I would be too tired to think straight! Simple decisions. If I should take a shower, or get out the bed? Cook a good meal or take them down to the park were decisions I could not make! These I realized was an early signs of postpartum depression.
Some tips on coping with postpartum depression
- Develop a support plan. Identify people who can support you in this postpartum depression and who you can rely on for support.
- Make time for yourself. You need the break. Once a week, ask your partner to take care of the baby and just relax.
- Share your feelings. It’s cathartic when you share your feelings. And to know that you are not the only one with such feelings. It can be a huge relief when someone can help you make sense of everything.
- Rely on family and friends. If you need support, let them know that you need support! It makes a huge difference to your life and lets them know that you’d like to be supported.
- Get proper sleep. Somethings were easy for me, like having a house-help and a cook. I would try and get sleep when the boys slept so that I would not be sleep deprived.
- Get out of the house. Fresh air works wonders on your mind and the babies too! Take them in a pram or just for a walk outside to breathe in fresh air and feel rejuvenated.
- Be a part of a mommy group. When you interact with other moms, it will be reassuring to hear that other mothers share your challenges too!
Research on Postpartum depression
The CDC points out that symptoms vary. It can include:
- crying more often than usual,
- feelings of anger,
- withdrawing from loved ones,
- feeling numb or disconnected from your baby,
- worrying that you will hurt the baby,
- or feeling guilty about not being a good mom or,
- doubting your ability to care for the baby.
Note: If you face severe anxiety coping with postpartum depression, consult your doctor for the right treatment.