Posted by Kristina Matej Hypnotherapist 148 Days Ago
Kristina Magdolene Matej describes how to spot postnatal depression and what to do about it
Post Natal Depression is way too common in today’s world, especially in Western society. It ranges from feeling moody and ‘not oneself’ to, at the other extreme, experiencing a psychotic event.
The underlying causes are:
Lack of appropriate support often exacerbates any symptoms the new mother might be experiencing. Additional aggravating factors are an identity crisis, previous poor mental health, unstable relationships (partner and/or family), addictions (especially alcohol or drug use) and lack of safety (lack of accommodation, food or money, war, domestic abuse etc).
In an Ideal World
Ideally, for at least the first six weeks, the new mother should be completely taken care of by her family and community, so she can entirely focus on her new baby and her recovery. By six weeks most women fully recover physically from birth, even after a caesarean section. The mother adjusts to new sleeping patterns and is starting to be able to expand her activities beyond just sleeping and breastfeeding. This is the natural process, giving the mother the opportunity to rest properly.
Sadly, many mothers are not afforded such care unless they literally pay for it in form of nannies, cleaners and night nurses. Too many women are forced back to work almost immediately after giving birth. But prolonged separation of mother and baby in the first year is often very traumatic for both mother and baby and alone can lead to PPD (post partum depression) or PPA (post partum anxiety).
Breastfeeding on demand has been shown to prevent or atleast lessen the symptoms of PND, so anything that disrupts that process poses a risk to the mother’s mental health if she is not adequately supported.
The lack of supportive community is particularly sensitive point for women as we have evolved to be a part of extended family, to be surrounded and held by women of all generations. The community would take care of chores, cooking, older children, and of the mother’s sleep and wellbeing, giving her time to adjust and recover.
How to Spot PPD
The symptoms of PPD are pretty varied. The most common are a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood, lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world, lack of energy and feeling tired all the time, trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day, difficulty bonding with your baby, withdrawing from contact with others, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and frightening thoughts – for example about hurting your baby (intrusive thoughts). Sometimes fathers suffer too.
How to Lessen the Impact or Even Prevent It
There are few things anyone can do, regardless of situation or resources.
This is one of those ‘put your oxygen mask on first’ moments, where in order to be able to look after others, you must take care of yourself first. When you are not well, those closest to you, especially children, will suffer with you. So if you still feel you are struggling, contact a therapist. The sooner you catch postnatal issues, the easier it is to get out of them, and the less trauma all round.
I am not talking of luxurious baths, massages and having your nails done (although there is no harm in those), but taking care of your mental and physical health postpartum can literally be a matter of life and death.
Fortunately, nowadays there are lot of sources of help and support, so even if you feel all alone, don’t hesitate to reach out. We all have the capacity to enjoy motherhood, we’rejust never meant to do it without a community to hold us. So let’s create our own community, our own ’village’ that it takes to raise a child.
Kristina Magdolene Matej is a therapist specializing in the mental well-being of mothers with wellbeing coaching, mindfulness practice, NLP and hypnotherapy. For more details see www.kmmserenitytherapies.co.uk.
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