Dr Krishna H Kumar, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Specialist, Consultant for Byond28, and Past President of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM)
Baby Equals Overwhelming Emotions
The birth of your baby can trigger many powerful emotions. You will begin to feel a range of emotions, from joy and excitement, to fear and anxiety. You encounter new problems such as sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, lack of personal time, hormonal changes and fatigue.
It is no surprise mothers often feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster. What most mothers are not aware, is that it can also result in something unexpected -- depression. In fact, mild depression is such a common occurrence in new mothers that it has coined its own name: the Baby Blues.
Mothers may feel overwhelmed by their emotions. They become easily upset, irritable, anxious and emotionally fragile. Baby blues usually start within the first few days post-delivery and peak in a week, but will taper off by the 14th day postpartum.
The Baby Blues are a perfectly normal phenomena, and new mothers should expect to experience it. However, 1 in 7 women have experienced longer lasting symptoms of post childbirth depression that may gradually worsen after the first few weeks. This will evolve into Postpartum Depression.
Understanding Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression should never be mistaken as a flaw or weakness in character or mindset. At a glance, it can easily be misinterpreted as Baby Blues; however the signs and symptoms are more intense. Its effect can last for months, or longer. Your Postpartum Depression could affect your performance in caring for your baby, which can further worsen your condition.
Some red flags for Postpartum Depression:
You find yourself withdrawing from your partner and not being able to bond well with your baby
Your emotions and anxiety are out of control, to the point where it affects your sleep and appetite
You feel hopeless and worthless, sometimes to the overwhelming point of contemplating suicide
Postpartum Depression is a build up of various physical and emotional problems. No single problem may cause or trigger Postpartum Depression.
It can also happen to new fathers
Contrary to popular belief, new fathers can experience postpartum depression too, especially young fathers with a history of depression, relationship, or financial problems. Paternal postpartum depression has the same symptoms with mothers with postpartum depression. It can negatively affect partner relationships and child development as well.
If you are a new father and have experienced depression or anxiety before, during, or after your wife’s pregnancy, do not take symptoms lightly. Speak to your nearest health care professional to receive support in treating these symptoms.
When Do I See a doctor?
It is only natural to be reluctant in admitting your depression after a supposedly joyous occasion of the birth of your baby. Most victims are embarrassed, frustrated and angry at themselves for feeling depressed. They seek to suppress these feelings without acknowledging it. Without proper acknowledgement and handling, these symptoms will spiral uncontrollably. Seek help if you observe the following red flags
Symptoms don't fade or worsen after two weeks
You find it hard to care for your baby
You find it hard to complete everyday tasks
You think of harming yourself or your baby
If a psychiatrist is not an option for you, seek help from:
Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA)
Mental Illness Awareness And Support Association (MIASA)
Scroll to the bottom for contact details for these societies
How Do I Cope?
1) Researchers claim that exercise can have an antidepressant effect for women with Postpartum Depression. Exercise while you can, even a quick 10 minutes should help!
2) Sleep More! Medical experts have claimed that the best time to sleep is together with your baby, even when you are breastfeeding. Sleeping together with your baby will strengthen your relationship and stave away Postpartum Depression.
3) Eating healthily will not cure Postpartum Depression, but it still gives your body the nutrients you need, which will help you feel better.
4) Get some Me time. Trust your partner or family to take care of the baby and spend time doing what you want. Me time works wonders to help you feel in control, and releases you from stress.
Prevention Is Still the Best Medicine
If you have a history of depression — especially postpartum depression — please inform your doctor of your pregnancy or intention to get pregnant. Your doctor can monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of depression. They can also prescribe antidepressants which can be taken during pregnancy. The earlier the detection, the earlier the treatment.
If left untreated, Postpartum Depression can interfere with the relationship of the mother and child. It may also cause emotional strain to those around the victim, leading to other family problems. Children of victims suffering from untreated Postpartum Depression are also more likely to develop emotional and behavioural problems, including slowing language growth.
Help Your Friend or Your Loved Ones
The most important thing about Postpartum Depression is to let the victim know that they are not alone. If you know someone close to you who is suspected to be suffering from Postpartum Depression, please help them seek medical attention immediately. The concept of having depression is still an uncomfortable discussion topic in Malaysia, but should be acknowledged as seriously as any other medical condition. Our best way to combat Postnatal Depression is to acknowledge, accept, be patient and find a solution together.
An educational collaboration with Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia
Visit Us At
BYOND28 Confinement Care
No.3, Jalan Pelandok,Taman Orkid, Cheras,43200, Selangor.
Phone: +(603) 9081 4488
WhatsApp: +(6017) 362 8548
List of HelpLines:
Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) Contact No: 03-2780 6803 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://mmha.org.my/ Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) Befrienders Hotline numbers: KL: 03-7956 8145 (24 hours) Ipoh: 05-547 7933 (4pm to 11pm) Penang: 04-281 5161 (3pm to midnight) E-Mail: email@example.com Website: https://www.befrienders.org.my/ MIASA Contact Number: 03-7732 2414 / 6013-878-13226 / 019-236-2423 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://miasa.org.my/ SOLS HEALTH Contact Number: 6018-664-0247 E-Mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://www.sols247.org/solshealth References: