“God could not be everywhere and so he created mothers”, This is the faith and thought that we all grow up with. And why not? One sees their mothers go through immense ups and down while bringing up their children. Similarly while growing up, I felt that my mother was a superwoman wearing a cape and is able to do wonders. The support and the understanding that I got from her, without seeing any glimpse of stress on her face made me feel that a mother can do anything. It’s only when I became a mother when I realised that this superpower does not just come naturally. It is a long process where the body, soul, mind, emotions and the whole sense of self go through a massive transition.
I started motherhood with a huge expectation from myself, right from pregnancy. Always wanting to be on top of things and trying to be the best version of myself. Pushing myself to the wall every time trying to be the best “supermom”. Right during the first week of the birth of the baby, I started feeling the brunt of this unseen trial reaching the imaginary benchmark. They say its “Baby Blues”, but it was clearly not just passing by feeling. It started with me missing my pregnancy days. I felt that the pregnancy days were better than that the post-birth phase and felt like a stranger to my own baby. Of course, the guilt that followed was horrifying. Am I doing something wrong? Do I even have motherly instincts? Will I ever be able to look after the baby? These were the thoughts that engulfed me. There was one particular day when I cried continuously for over 6 hours and just couldn’t stop. I spoke to my midwife who assured that 80% of women go through this roller coaster and I just need to keep a tab on how long I keep feeling this. I was clearly slipping into Postnatal depression. All the happiness and calmness that I was in during pregnancy and during childbirth seemed to be a bubble with this state I was in. I managed to transition from the monstrous feelings and the so-called “Baby blue”.
The symptoms of Baby Blues are seen in the first few weeks of postpartum. They include a feeling of sadness, mood swings, emotional reactiveness, guilt and frustration. With some strategies to manage them, they last for a few weeks. If left untreated or unmanaged they can lead to Postnatal Depression and postpartum psychosis that can last longer than months. Though commonly seen in new mothers, there still needs to be a lot of awareness and openness around Baby Blues.
Bringing up a child is not only looking after the needs of the child in terms of food, clothing and sleep. It is so much more than that. You are creating an individual with an independent thought process, emotions and mind. It is of utmost importance for a mother to be in good mental health to be able to create this generation of the human race. So here are some thoughts and take home tips for new mums who are sailing in the same boat that I did.
- Being open about feeling: The biggest hesitation that women feel I guess admitting how they are feeling. having baby blues and slipping into PND involves not feeling connected to your own baby. This is where the guilt comes in picture and all you focus is denying your own feelings and concentrating on suppressing the thoughts. It is better to admit the feelings and be open about how you are feeling. This is the first step towards then finding support and solution.
- Talk talk talk: Most important factor is expressing these thoughts to a person who will be absolutely non-judgemental. It could either be your mother, your friend, husband or even a midwife or a doctor. Your doctor or midwife will keep a tab on your state of mind and take actions if at all you are slipping into the PND. Stay away from the person who will shame you for having baby blues or having negative thoughts at this point in time.
- Lower your expectations from self: From a mother who has been there done that a most important piece of advice – “Mother is just as old as her child is”. There is no manual to motherhood and hence there is no benchmark. Stop running behind your own expectations or moreover expectations of people around you. You will learn each day even when your child is 50. You might have people around you saying how they managed a plethora of things or how they were good at multitasking. Good for them !!! Just take on you platter what you can digest.
- Seek Support: Something that we all are ashamed of. When you deliver a child the universe does not give you an additional brain to store extra information, A few additional hands To do 10 different things and a few more legs to run around. It is better to get into the habit of knowing where your limit is and seeking support from the people you trust. This should not make a mother feel ashamed of herself. A happy mother with good mental health can give a conducive environment to the baby.
- Be patient: The Baby blue is a phase when dealt with in the right manner will pass. It is just important to seek support from the doctor and let them know even of the smallest feeling during the time. This is a massive change in a woman’s life and every element of her will take some time to get adjusted.
And then when I was out of the Baby blues, all I learnt was to nurture myself as well while I nurture my child. As they say on the journey on a plane” When the oxygen level drops, Put on your mask before helping others.”