Postpartum Depression: An Overlooked Aspect

After giving childbirth, 22% of mothers experience it, and it is real.

Image Credit: Canva

Type of Postpartum Disorders

  1. Postpartum Blues, Baby Blues: Occurs to 300–750 females per 1000 births. It may resolve in a few days after delivery and it usually requires only reassurance.
  2. Postpartum Psychosis: with a global prevalence ranging from 0.89 to 2.6 per 1000 births, is a severe disorder that begins within four weeks postpartum and requires hospitalization.
  3. Postpartum Depression: can start soon after childbirth or as a continuation of antenatal depression and needs to be treated. According to estimates, 100–150 cases of postpartum depression occur for every 1000 births worldwide.[1]

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a medical illness involving feelings of extreme sadness, indifference, and/or anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite.

Symptoms

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Excessive worry about the baby
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent Cries
  • Emotional Confusion

Causes

Financial hardships, the existence of domestic abuse, the mother’s prior history of psychiatric illness, marital conflict, the husband’s lack of support, the birth of a female infant, and a lack of maternal education in India were all listed as but not limited to postpartum depression risk factors. According to one of the studies of 20000+ women, the combined prevalence of postpartum depression in India was 22% between 2000 to 2016.[1]

Important Facts Around Postpartum Depression in India

  • Dr. Soundarya, the granddaughter of former Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, was in her early 30s when her life suddenly came to an end on Friday. Soundarya was a doctor by profession, a member of an influential family, happily married to another doctor, and the mother of a six-month-old. Yet, she lost the battle of her life to postpartum depression. [5]
  • In India, women who deliver at a health facility often stay for less than 48 hours after delivery. This limits the ability of medical professionals to advise the mother and other family members about the symptoms of postpartum depression and when to seek treatment.
  • Postnatal customs, such as the period alone at home observed in many cultures, might have a negative impact on a woman’s postpartum care-seeking behavior.
  • Furthermore, mothers may be reluctant to admit their suffering either because of social taboos associated with depression or concerns about being labeled as a mother who failed to deliver the responsibilities of child care.
  • The studies have found a relatively higher pooled proportion of postpartum depression in mothers residing in urban than in rural areas. This may be due to factors such as overcrowding, inadequate housing, breakdown of traditional family structures leading to fragmented social support systems, increased work pressure, high cost of living, and increased out-of-pocket expenditure on health care.
  • The lack of data on perinatal mental health difficulties from low- and middle-income countries affects the process of creating programs to improve mothers' psychosocial health.

How to support and spread awareness

One of the reasons I wrote this post was to make sure I was discussing this subject openly. I want to inspire women to share their caregiving experiences and take pride in showing their most vulnerable selves. We all go through a rollercoaster of emotions post-birth and it can take a while for us to realize that what we go through is not normal.

  • When a female is pregnant, everyone focuses on her well-being but once she delivers, the attention shifts to the child. Instead, we should ensure that a mother’s emotional and physical well-being is taken care of as well.
  • If your wife recently gave birth to a child or any of your family members have gone through this phase in your home. You can take care of that child for a while and offer the mother some uninterrupted time, which includes being in charge of supplying meals and cleaning up the child’s poop.
  • Make an effort to guarantee that she has at least a few hours of restful sleep. Lack of sleep during this time worsens emotions.
  • Do not hesitate to seek expert assistance if you believe that she is experiencing significant emotional mayhem.
  • Contribute to the house chores. Not only did she become a mother, but your position also changed and that may cause you to take on more responsibilities.
  • A mother should not be expected to be perfect. Unfortunately, a couple does not receive formal training for the hardest job in the world when they decide to become parents. So it would be terrible to demand faultless parenting, especially from a mother.

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Madhuri Jain

I help working women to find strength and confidence to thrive at work and home . Sharing my learning while I am on path to become best version of myself.