I first came to know about Post-natal depression (PND) when I personally met a mother of three children who experienced it. She was perfectly fine during her first and second delivery but then she got PND during her third one. It was quite bad and unfortunately it was found out too late by her family. The doctor couldn’t safe her anymore as her depression was already too severe. And…very sad to say, she must stay away from her family members since then because her unstable state of mind might lead her to hurt her loved ones.
That encounter with the lady gave me such a deep impression and I won’t forget it for my whole life. It ‘taught’ me about the danger of PND and how it will affect us and our family if it is not treated and diagnosed in time.
About two-thirds of women experience postnatal blues in the first week after delivery. Symptoms include feelings of emotionality, weepiness, moodiness, anxious thoughts about caring for the baby and feeling frustrated with the baby’s crying. In severe cases, the mother can have thoughts of hurting her baby or committing suicide.
It is commonly believed that PND is due to hormonal changes, but rather, there are usually many factors that contribute to the development of postnatal depression in woman: hormonal, biological, psychosocial and emotional changes.
Some of the factors contributing to the development of postnatal depression are:
- Distress about weight gain, body shape changes
- Sleep deprivation from having to attend to baby’s night-feeds
- Marital discord
- Lack of social support
- Financial difficulties
- Family problems
- Emotional difficulties adjusting to the new role of being a mother
- Unpleasant confinement experiences
(This information was taken from http://www.singhealth.com.sg)
As for me, I did not go into deep depression in my first few months of delivery. But honestly, I was not as excited as I thought I would, and I cried a lot for the first few weeks. I was so stressed about Alex’s feeding pattern, I was in pain, I was exhausted, I felt so lonely whenever I woke up in the middle of the night to feed and change his diapers, and most of all I was scared of the BIG responsibilities and changes in my life that await me in the future. All those things came at once and made me very anxious.
Strangely, I was actually very excited when I was still pregnant despite knowing all those challenges that I may face. Being a mom is one of my dream since I was a teenager. And I have been waiting eagerly to see my baby, hug him, cuddle him and kiss him. But somehow all these negative feelings and anxiety just set in without my control. When Hubby asked me why I cried, I could only say, “I really don’t know. I just feel very down and sad.”
It is hard for me to explain what was happening inside me during those ‘dark nights’. What I can remember is that I couldn’t control my feelings, I became very moody, and I was not my normal self. Overall, I thought that my future is gonna be very gloomy because of Alex and honestly, at that time, I blamed him for intruding and changing my life.
I am very thankful that I had a strong support from hubby and my mom at that time. Hubby always tried to take care of Alex when I need to rest and he also helped in doing house chores. Mom cooked for me everyday and taught me basic skills to take care of a newborn. She has been such a great supporter as always. She even cried with me when I was down and she told me that everything will be alright. I really can’t imagine how I can go through those difficult moment without them.
Fortunately, all those sad and negative feelings were eventually gone after one month. I guess my hormones were more or less stabilized and I had more confidence in taking care of Alex. Even though the situation had not changed much and I still had tough time with him, the way I dealt with the challenges was so different than before. I was more stable emotionally and the way I look at things was not as ‘cloudy’ and ‘dark’ as before. And most of all, I start to fall in love with him.
I really thank God for His help and counsels during those difficult time. Again I found strength and peace from His word and also from all those people who He has placed around me. I know that I was not alone and there are so many other mothers who experience the same thing as me.
By sharing my experience, I would love to let you know that you are not alone if you ever or will experience PND. PND is common during the first few months of delivery. Talk and share to your spouse or family if you think you get it. And never ever let it makes you down for too long. If it is, please look for help as soon as possible.
You can contact KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital at this number: (65) 6294 4050