Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues

Faija Tasfia, Israt Sabiha Ayshee and Sayeedur Rahman

Sheela, a mother of three, gave birth to her fourth one three months prior to the delivery date and a few days later walked out of her house covered in flames. No, it was not an accident but a suicide. And after eight days of her submission in a local hospital, sustaining to 63% superficial and deep burns, Sheela breathed her last. 

A life coming into the world brings so much joy and happiness.  Most parents assert that the arrival of a baby added new meaning to their life. But it can also bring severe depression to the parents. The feeling of loneliness, sadness, or even the feeling of being unwanted is a state that is commonly seen in mothers after giving birth. This condition is known as Postpartum Depression. 

According to research conducted by researchers in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, at least 10% of new mothers suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression after childbirth. Now, most women experience this for a short period feeling worried or sad after childbirth which is termed as “Baby blues’’. A new father can also suffer from Baby Blues. But when it comes to Postpartum Depression, the study conducted has shown that 50% of the depressive episodes may begin during pregnancy, prior to or within the four weeks following delivery.  Symptoms of PPD include extreme sadness anxiety (about being inadequate in taking care of the baby), thoughts of harming self or the child, crying episodes (strong mood swings), irritability, etc.

There are many factors contributing to PPD but the exact cause is unclear. But it is perceived by professionals that the cause can be a combination of physical, emotional, genetic, and social factors. 

In Bangladesh, postpartum depression is rarely diagnosed as most assume it is caused by hormonal changes. Little do they know that the outcomes of this depression can lead to withdrawal from social gatherings, even family and friends, having trouble bonding with the child, and even harming the child. Partners of women suffering PPD have reported that they failed to help their partners feel cheerful, as the women persistently felt helpless and hopeless. During this time, a support system is very important.  The mother should be able to talk to someone regarding her problems. Her partner and other family members should be understanding and compassionate.  Talking to other new mothers and counseling are also good options.

In our country, there is so much stigma related to mental health. The mother fails to express her despair because of the fear of judgment overshadows mental wellbeing, and leads to grave consequences. Our society expects a woman to give up everything after having a child. This escalates her anxiety even more. The pressure to become everything for the child while giving up on herself in the process exacerbates the issue. In our country, people aren’t aware of postpartum depression. Though some people are starting to acknowledge the gravity of this issue, we are still unable to provide the exposure and attention this issue needs. Post-Partum Depression is a series matter. Because with rates varying 11% to 42% across lands, it is important we put more focus on this matter. 

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