In what ways do pregnancy and childbirth affect the mental health of a new mother?
What are the common myths around this, and what is the reality?
The common mental health problems that occur in some mothers, while they are pregnant or within one year after the birth of the child, are low mood, anxiety, and depression. These mental health problems are referred to as Postpartum depression (PPD).
Let us dispel five common myths about PPD:
1. Myth: It’s my fault
Fact: Mothers who experience PPD think that it’s their fault and they feel guilty. But PPD is something that they can’t choose, and neither can it be willed away.
Susceptibility to rapid fluctuations in the hormones estrogen and progesterone during childbirth determines whether the mother develops PPD or not. This susceptibility, in turn, is determined by the genetic predisposition. Earlier experiences of trauma and abuse can increase the risk of developing PPD in those who are already vulnerable genetically.
2. Myth: Things will self-resolve
Fact: PPD does not go away on its own. It can’t be fixed with a mere attitude adjustment, and overcoming it is not just a matter of snapping out of it and focusing on the positive.
Healing PPD requires help from professionals. Prompt treatment accelerates recovery. Most cases can be treated with different forms of psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. The treatment must be customized for every patient. Things that will benefit all are making positive lifestyle and diet changes, such as prioritizing sleep, getting adequate exercise and eating a nutritious, healthy diet.
3. Myth: Feeling sad and crying nonstop
Fact: One size does not fit all. Every mother with PPD acts differently. While some do feel sad and cry nonstop, others experience low mood, anxiety, numbness, feelings of being overwhelmed, or just being irritable and angry. Disrupted sleep is common, and so is the guilt that they are not enjoying their experience of being a mother.
The emotional turmoil and silent struggle of the mother with PPD are not apparent to others as they function in their role with calmness and appear fine. However, their mental health interferes with their ability to nurture a stronger bonding and attachment with their infant.
4. Myth: Vulnerability is soon after childbirth
Fact: PPD can develop anytime within the first year of childbirth. Most often, symptoms are recognized after three to four months, and not necessarily shortly are the child is born.
Many mothers develop PPD after six months, and when they seek professional help, they are told that it cannot be PPD because of the myth that PPD cannot occur at that stage. This myth prevents them from getting timely professional help.
5. Myth: Hurting the kid
Fact: Mothers with PPD don’t hurt their kid and are not a bad person. If the illness is severe, then the chances of the mother harming herself are far greater than hurting the infant.
There is a different and rare illness called postpartum psychosis in which mothers could harm their kid. And this should not be confused with PPD.
In summary, dispelling myths about the mental health of new moms can lead to getting prompt, professional help and recovering rapidly and entirely.
When in doubt, talk to a coach who works with women all over the world and find out more about improving your mindset.
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