The postpartum period or the postnatal period refers to the immediate stage that follows childbirth. It starts right after childbirth and can go up to 6 to 8 weeks on end. This period sees tremendous change in the mother’s body. Here, the mother’s body returns back to the pre-pregnancy phase. The size of her uterus, her hormonal levels and other aspects of her body change.
This period is one of the most critical periods in a new mother’s life. But this is also one of the most neglected out of all. Due to the added responsibilities of the baby, new moms tend to ignore their health in postpartum and end up causing irrevocable damage to their bodies and minds- most infantile/newborn and maternal deaths occur during the postpartum period.
The baby brings with himself a set of needs and wants and parents of newborns spend a hefty chunk of their time on making sure their child’s needs are met. What is overseen are the requirements of the mother who has either gone through a physically traumatic labor or a surgical c-section delivery.
Mothers often experience anxiety, mood swings, sadness, irritability and other related overwhelming emotions during the postpartum period. These emotions are sometimes called “Baby Clues”. These are relatively normal, and if you feel or felt any of these, there is nothing wrong with you or the baby. Your body has been on a constant rollercoaster since conceiving the baby.
However, some women feel these more intensely and for longer durations. These are not to be mistaken for “baby clues.” These are symptoms of a Postpartum Depression (PPD). Insomnia, depressive mood swings, difficulty in bonding with the child, excessive crying, withdrawal from social activities with family and friends, etc. are alarming symptoms of PPD. Your symptoms may interfere with your daily life- but they are treatable. If you do not consult an expert, your PPD might stretch for months on end.
In extreme cases, PPD turns into Postpartum Psychosis. It is extremely rare and the symptoms are severe- hallucinations, obsessive thoughts about the baby, excessive agitation, paranoia and destructive thoughts about self and the baby. Postpartum Psychosis and its symptoms can lead to life-threatening thoughts and behaviors. If you find yourself or your loved one experiencing these, immediate doctor’s attention is strongly advised.
Being a mother is tough work and motherhood wasn’t never meant to be easy- it is tough and taxing and sometimes, in the process you lose yourself. Talking to therapists, family and friends helps. Have faith, and believe in yourself.