Parenthood is a blessing for many people. It is a beautiful and also a complex journey that lasts a lifetime. It is a new beginning, a transformative journey, and a path of responsibility to nurture their child. It is a very joyous time, but when the moment of childbirth comes, it may bring a lot of physical and emotional changes, leading to postpartum depression.
In Nepal, people are still unaware of the condition and due to a lack of awareness of postpartum depression, many new parents do not understand what they are going through. Also, they find themselves in an awkward situation where they can neither bond with their newborn nor perform any daily activities due to high stress levels.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a situation of sadness, anxiety, and tiredness that may start between the initial months of pregnancy and the time after childbirth. Postpartum depression makes it difficult for new mothers and fathers to do the daily tasks as well as bond with their newborns.
It is normal, occurring in more than one in every seven women in a year. There is also a misconception that males do not suffer from postpartum depression. One in every 10 men suffers from high stress levels during the postpartum period.
In countries like Nepal, our society solely focuses on happiness and joyful moments, ignoring the thought that new parents may struggle to adjust to their new lives. New parents feel uncomfortable and may take time to adjust to their new world.
What are the contributing factors to postpartum depression and symptoms?
Hormonal changes are one of the main factors that contribute to postpartum depression. The initial two days to 35 days after birth, often referred to as baby blues, sees new mothers grappling with sleep disturbances, moodiness, and feelings of sadness. For fathers, frustration and irritability may become overwhelming.
The other symptoms of postpartum depression are changes in feelings—feeling depressed, guilt, and shame most of the time. Having little to no motivation to do daily work, feeling tired, weight fluctuations, tendency to harm themselves or their babies, and having trouble bonding with their babies are the other symptoms of postpartum depression.
What are the challenges for the new parents?
A new beginning is always difficult. With the newborn, the parents gain heavy responsibility on their shoulders. They both have to work together to make ends meet. It is not as easy as society makes it seem. Many couples struggle to adjust to this new environment due to a lack of proper care and encouragement from the elders.
With a drastic change in their lives, it seems almost impossible to go back to the lives they were living. The parents will not just be raising a child, but raising a person.
This process is not at all easy. They need to provide proper parenting so that the child grows into a person who will be responsible, a person with morals, and a person with a future. The process is a huge pressure and responsibility for the parents. With postpartum depression interfering in parenting, it not only adversely affects the couple but also the child.
With changes taking place in the new lives of the couples, there must be proper help and support from other family members. It is not easy to ask for help, but if any of the parents think they need it, they have to be able to ask for it.
Furthermore, parenting classes have been the most effective way to make people aware of the situation of postpartum depression. Through this, parents are capable of identifying the signs of postpartum depression and are aware that it may exist.
Also, it is good to seek prominent individuals to talk about their experiences with postpartum depression. Their experiences might lessen prejudice and inspire others to get care.