Being a mother is a dream come true moment for women. We all know that pregnancy is a time for excitement and happiness, but it is also the time when most women feel anxiety and depression. Constant worrying about the wellness of their baby increases the stress and leads to antenatal depression. Once the baby is born, the new mums fear and doubt their parenthood, this fear fuels the feeling of guilt or shame.
Do not worry, because you are not alone. Prenatal or postnatal depression does not make you a bad mother it is a sign of you trying to be the best parent for your little one. Seeking help from your friends and family and early treatment options aids in faster recovery without affecting the relationship between your baby and your partner.
Risk Factors Which Increase Depression in Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
“The pregnant women must be happy always”, is a myth and hinders women from receiving proper treatment, as they feel ashamed to bring up their depression during their pregnancy. Anxiety and stress can be triggered by many physiological or psychological factors.
- Traumatic childhood
- Being a single parent
- Unexpected pregnancy
- Early pregnancy under the age of 20
- Poor financial and social support
- History of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- Difficult labor
- Complicated pregnancy or fertility problems
- Premature, or multiple births
- Problems in feeding
- Health issues in the infants
- Anxious or self-critical personality
- Previous history of mental illness
- Undergone abuse or violence
Signs of Prenatal Depression
A lot of pregnant women experience prenatal or antenatal depression. Anxiety is a common feeling when expecting a baby, however, some mothers might experience intense mood swings which affect their normal day-to-day functionalities.
The symptoms of prenatal depression include:
- Relentless worrying or fears about the health of the growing fetus
- Abnormal mood swings
- Always sad and crying without any reason
- Shortness of breath
- Panic attacks
- Disconnected from your family and friends
- Being on edge constantly
- Lack of self-confidence and feeling worthless
- Showing no interest in your favorite activities
- Brain fog – difficulty in remembering or focusing
- Thoughts of suicide
Effects of Prenatal Depression
Depression is a serious health issue and depression during pregnancy can cause
- Premature baby (delivering before the due date)
- Baby is born with a very less weight
- Postpartum depression
Baby blues is a very common condition in new mothers and it will go away on its own. It is the beginning stage of postpartum depression and many new moms have the “baby blues”. The signs are feeling anxious, confused, irritability, and trouble in eating or sleeping. It usually occurs in the first few days of birth and can last up to few weeks. Baby blues stay for a few days and do not require medical attention unless it turns out to be postpartum depression.
Signs of Postnatal Depression
Postpartum depression occurs once after the baby is born and lasts for weeks or months. It can be a very frightening and frustrating condition to deal alone with along with the demands of taking care of a new baby. The causes for postpartum depression are still unknown and you are at greater risk if you or your family have a history of depression. The signs of postpartum depression are:
- Unable to deal with taking care of the baby and cope up with the demand of extra chores
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviors
- Highly sensitive to noise or touch
- Abnormal appetite, either less or overeating
- Lack of sleep leading to confusions
- Always sad, irritated, or annoyed
- Frightened to take care of the baby without any support
- Increase in alcohol or drug intake
- Detached from surroundings
- Loss of memory and concentration
- Dangerous thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
If these signs last for more than two weeks, it is high time you seek help from the health professionals. There is nothing to be embarrassed about in getting help from your family and friends during difficult times.
Puerperal or postpartum psychosis is a serious mental illness and a potentially life-threatening condition that puts both baby and mother at risk. It is a rare condition and the symptoms usually occur within the first four weeks after giving birth and can last up to 12 weeks. The mother should be immediately admitted to the hospital to seek psychiatric assessment and treatment. With a lot of support, care, and proper treatment, the mothers can fully recover from this condition.
Can I take antidepressants during the pregnancy?
Many women worry about taking antidepressants during their pregnancy. “What if the treatment causes side effects on my baby’s health?”, “What if my baby can inherit my depression?”, these are the thoughts that always appear on their minds.
Many types of research have been done on this field and it is found that the brain structure of the babies born to moms with high levels of depression is slightly different from the babies born to moms without depression. But the differences found were very slight and it is highly unlikely that the child can develop depression from their mother.
In very rare situations, the newborn babies of the women who took antidepressants during their pregnancy might have symptoms like irritability, poor feeding, and fast breathing. But these signs will pass off quickly within few weeks and they grow up as a normal child.
Do not forget that if you leave the depression left untreated, it can turn into a serious issue and danger to you and your baby in the long run. So, consult your doctor in case of any worries instead of assuming on your own. Doctors can prescribe the treatment which is more suitable for you without harming your baby.
I am taking antidepressants. Can I breastfeed my baby?
Myth – Women consuming antidepressants should not breastfeed their baby
Fact – Taking antidepressants during breastfeeding cause no harm to the baby
“Breast is best”, Breastfeeding is the best for the good health of your baby and to form a strong bond between you and your child, even if you take antidepressants. Remember, if you stop the medications, the depression might return which can put both you and your baby at risk. So, if you wish to breastfeed your baby, then there is no reason for you to hesitate. Carry on and pat yourself for making the right choice.
Message from Bliss Naturals
Instead of pretending everything is okay, acknowledge your depression and seek medical, emotional, and social support. This effort will put you in a better position as a mother and ignore the discrimination or stigma imposed on you. The initial days of looking after a new baby with the signs of depression can be hard. Talk to your doctor, friends, and family, or opt for the support programs or services and be strong to recover soon. Remember, “Nothing is more powerful than motherhood, even depression cannot take a stand against it!”