Depressing and Motherhood are usually not used together. Its like a social taboo to use anything other than the rainbow happy adjectives with motherhood. Yes, agreed. The happiness and joy is just overwhelming. I cant think of myself a day without my daughter and I have a lot to thank motherhood too. It has made me a much better human being, it has given me meaning and of course it has given me a blog
Yet, I don’t agree with the monochrome happy color that society paints motherhood with. There are, if not more, at least 50 shades of gray that motherhood can be painted in!
As part of series of articles about “Dark mothering” where I promised my readers to talk about the darker days of motherhood that are as real as the other days, lets start with something most of us deal with- Post partum depression.
On one hand where all moms who have newly delivered are posting happy pictures with tears of joy hugging and kissing their babies, you are feeling like a mess. You hate yourself and everybody around you. Unfortunately, including your baby! And you feel horrible, guilty, inadequate and a total failure as a mom!
You cry at the drop of a hat. You hate talking to people. You don’t want to see your husband. And any guests arriving to see the baby is just the tipping point where you want to scream and run away!
Your body and mind are feeling this but your social conditioning just keeps telling you how wrong you are to feel this way. How can a mother not be happy? To top it up, your husband and loved ones also don’t understand why you are behaving like a maniac.
Oh! Only and if only, you had known about post partum depression and known that it is as real as giving birth. Its likely to be your constant companion in the early days post delivery. And you will have to live with it.
But isn’t there a way out?
Well, for starters, I always feel that knowing, understanding and accepting something is the best way to deal with it.
So here are some facts about PPD (post partum depression):
- It’s due to a hormonal interplay in your body. Its nothing that you are doing on purpose! (Pre-warn the Mom-in-law about this!!)
- It cant go away by trying or wishing. Like all other biochemical processes in your body, its something that you cant dismiss by trying very hard!
- Its common and happens to other women too. A survey indicates that upto 25% of post partum mothers undergo depression.
- However, its fairly uncommon too. Good news is that you don’t have to prepare yourself for an upcoming depressive episode for sure. Remember, 75% of the mothers DON’T get PPD. That’s a good number, isn’t it
- Its temporary. Like most gray clouds, the silver lining is that its temporary.
The most important aspect to remember and educate those living with you is that you are not causing PPD to happen to you. It just happens. You cant deal with it by “not thinking about it.” Its hormones messing with your brain. You cant think or wish for them to not!
PPD is as much a biological process as your heart pumping blood. Just like you cant make an ongoing heart attack go away just by wishing hard, you cant make PPD go away by wishing so. You need to take action
So if you happen to be in the 25% category that do fall prey to PPD, what do you do about it.
- Support from family: Its always best to have a family and spouse you can expect support from. You can get your gynae brief your spouse about a futuristic possibility of PPD during your last few pre-natal visits. Hearing it from a doc will probably help in expressing the seriousness and reality of the situation.
- Don’t blame yourself: We all wish for a happy post partum picture where its all smiles and joy. However, its ok if its not. I was not up for a selfie the minute I delivered. And its perfectly fine if you are not. If you are feeling emotions contrary to the ones you were hoping and expecting, don’t punch yourself about it. They are emotions. They are hormone controlled. And right now, hormones have a black magic kind of hold on you. So let yourself be.
- Curb unnecessary visits: We all hate the random strangers who come up to see your baby post delivery. And you are expected to sit up and greet and smile and make small chat each time the doorbell rings. It can be exhausting, right? If you have an understanding set of people around you, its best to tell them clearly that you need your rest and probably fix a time. Say, if anyone visits between 2pm-6pm, they should not be allowed in your room as you want to nap. The baby can be taken out to be showered with blessings. But not you!
- Breastfeed: Though there is no medical evidence on it, breastfeeding your baby at short intervals just helps uplift your mood. Make eye contact with her. Talk to her. Watch the magic you have delivered! Its all a mood pumper!
Also, you can talk whatever it is you are really feeling with your baby. Believe me, a 2 day old wont know head or tail when you say ,”Mommy feels like crying all the time! And I don’t want to! Coz I love you so much!” but you saying it out loud will just make you feel better. Also, breastfeeding is the best way to get out of meeting unwanted visitors. “Oh she is feeding the baby” is enough to stop any visitor from coming to you! Hehehe…evil laughter!
- Call over positive people: In the West there are many care groups and support groups for PPD moms. However, I am yet to find one in India. But don’t worry! Your best pals can do the same for you right in the convenience of your home. One of my besties was there with me when I delivered. She visited me during my early mommy days. I think I owe a lot of my post partum happiness to her. You laugh, reminiscence those college days and best of all- talk about what you are really going through. And if your bestie was as non-judgemental and eager to just listen to you without offering any advice as mine was, half the PPD battle is won!
- Massage: As modern women, we don’t like to follow some old wives’ therapies. But I am a standing testimony that they do help. Getting regular massages just makes you feel so happy! Wearing a scarf on your head, not going out for 40 days, tying a tight belt around your waist, eating those “Gond” ke ladoo, having the yummy Panjiri…..i don’t know if they work. But it surely does uplift your mood.
- Ask for help: Though we all want to be epitomes of super moms who have everything in control, asking for ask much help without feeling guilty is the mantra during the early motherhood days. Getting your mother, in-laws, friends, husband, nanny, maids to help you out on a daily basis is a good idea, especially during the first 1-2 months of new mothering! It just makes the pressure go away from your head. And after 2 months, you can do all you want to be the super mom!
- Shed the Damsel in distress look: Get up and do your eye make-up if you want, walk around a little bit, get chatty with your friends, pick up a good wardrobe to wear post delivery- do whatever makes you happy. Being a new mom doesn’t mean having a haggard look and a miserable life! Motherhood doesn’t make you weak or vulnerable. If anything, it gives you the key to strengths that you never knew you had! You are a tigress for your baby! Feel empowered!
These are the thoughts that I could put together to help my friends who have or are undergoing PPD. As a Nirvanama, I would love to hear you out and know more about your experience with PPD. Your comment might help another mom overcome her battle!
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