Blues after the Baby Shower
She had looked forward to this baby so much. Pregnancy was easier than expected. None of the morning sickness issues that her friends had warned her about. In fact she blossomed during her pregnancy, her office work was of high quality and everyone who saw her said that motherhood suited her.
She had read magazines and books on pregnancy and often read parts of it aloud to her husband who teased her indulgently about her constant preoccupation with this baby who was yet to come. She had thought of a name for a girl and a boy and had started thinking of the baby’ room and clothes. It was all fine till her `Srimantha’ during her 9th month. This was her baby shower and all her friends and relatives were literally showering her with blessings and gifts. By the end of the day she was exhausted and had a restless night.
The next morning was when the gloom and panic began. What if labour was difficult, what if something happened to the baby or what if something happened to her? Thoughts crowded around like a whirlpool, dragging her down further every minute.
She insisted on seeing her obstetrician for an unscheduled appointment who assured her that the baby was fine and that calmed her down a bit.
Three weeks later, she went into labour and needed a Ceasarian section. She got up from her anaesthesia groggy and confused. They brought her baby to her but she did not feel the joy that she had expected. How would she look after this little creature who was so dependent on her?
Somehow, she mustered enough energy to breast feed. At home there was her mother for help and all the relatives who came exclaimed how beautiful the baby was but she did not feel anything. And then came the tears and the guilt.
Thoughts went round and round her mind- “I must be an awful mother she thought not to feel happy.”
“All this seems such a chore, I am tired and don’t feel like feeding my baby”.
“I wish someone could look after the baby and let me lie in bed”.
Her husband was befuddled and confused. Had he done something wrong? Should they not have had a child just yet? Would she be like this forever? How would he manage the baby single handed?
Notes from a Perinatal Psychiatrist – The Solutions
How could we have prevented this from happening?
How can we help a woman, her baby and family when something like this happens?
Depression in pregnancy, especially in the last couple of months is not uncommon. Early detection can help in treatment and preventing it from worsening in the postpartum.
The obstetrician could have referred her to a counselor first or a psychologist to assess the anxiety and depression. They would have suggested some simple `mental techniques” based on cognitive therapy which could have made our young mother feel a lot better.
If that didn’t work, we would have started her on a low dose antidepressant with a good safety profile. We could have started the same antidepressant soon after delivery which would have helped the mother a great deal and also counseled her and her husband on simple methods of handling this postpartum depression.
We would have reassured the mother that its ok not to be a `perfect’ mom! Mothers will feel tired, frustrated and sometimes get angry and one might not feel attached and loving towards the baby at all times.
We would have spoken to the husband and told him about depression linked to childbirth and what he can do to help. Importantly, we would have assured him that he was not to blame and this can be treated.
I would urge readers to look at this website on postpartum mental health, www.postpartumprogress.com. This site has been voted as the top website for information and I found it very useful too!
Please write to me at this website or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you have similar experiences and if you would like to know more about a specific mental health problem related to childbirth and mothering. This blog is for all the mothers who have struggled or are struggling with mental health concerns related to childbirth, for those who overcame these struggles and for those husbands and family members who helped them.