While the long awaited arrival of a bundle of joy in the family leads to an initial feeling of euphoria and exhilaration, for some women, such joy may soon be replaced with what we call “baby blues”.
Baby blues are partially hormonal in nature, but are also related to anxiety that comes along with becoming responsible for a new and tiny living being! Experts suggest that baby blues must however be differentiated from what is officially called post-partum depression (PPD). Baby blues tend to be mild and women can cope with these with effective support structures and emotional help from the partner, other members of the family, and friends.
However, the more severe version, PPD, could need professional help. The first step is to diagnose PPD. Certain overlapping symptoms of baby blues and PPD are sadness, mood swings, bouts of crying, and sleeplessness. Symptoms specific to PPD include lack of interest or negative feelings towards the baby, loss of pleasure, lack of energy, and feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Causal factors for PPD include stress and hormonal changes. PPD needs to be tackled for the welfare of both the mother and the baby. Studies suggest that babies whose mothers have PPD can, as a consequence, suffer from childhood depression and also from behavioural, social, emotional, and cognitive development related issues.
For tackling PPD, the first step is for those with PPD to realize they aren’t alone. In the United States, a 2013 study estimated that around 14% of mothers of newborns suffer from PPD. Apart from seeking professional help, mothers of newborns can deal with PPD by ensuring that they have sufficient nutrition (includes meals on time) and sleep. Investing energy in interpersonal relations including with the spouse and by joining a support group of other newborn mothers is also recommended. Exercising, yoga, and pranayam are also suggested as stress busters that can effectively combat PPD. Most importantly, do not hide or suppress your feelings but cry when you must and confide in friends, family, and your partner.