Would you recognise it if/when you visit a friend in their postpartum period? Would you know what to say or do to help them?
Part of the reason i stay in contact with my clients even past the baby's birth is to provide support when they need it. My support and overal contact doesn't end when baby is born and most of my clients will vouch for how handy my availability has been post birth. To provide that listening ear when they need someone to talk to.
From many of the women i have supported, the same words are repeated time and time again. 'He doesn't know what to say', 'he doesn't recognise it', 'he doesn't understand it' NOBODY IS BELIEVING ME. If there is a time in the new phase that women need to feel 'heard' is during the sacred period of their postpartum. The moment when hormones are all over the place, everything is new even for second or third time mums, every pregnancy, birth, child AND experience will be different. Why then is the postpartum period so undermined?
The new transition to motherhood can be a stressful one, with hormone changes, lifestyle changes, extreme sleep deprivation and around the clock needs of the new baby. Spells of sadness or moodiness are common for new mothers. Postpartum Blues may begin anywhere in the first two months, but should fade by one to weeks later. Not all mothers will experience these moment of helplessness, overwhelming and tears. It is important to realize that parents of newborns endure stresses that should not be dismissed. Postpartum Emotional Health is important for not only the mother, but the baby and family at large. The mother sets the pace and mood in the home, and if she is affected naturally everyone else will suffer. Recognising the signs earlier could help a great deal. And sometimes even a listening ear can be more than helpful. To be allowed to vent, to moan, to complain, TO BE HEARD
Blues – the new transition to motherhood is a stressful one, with hormone changes, lifestyle changes, extreme sleep deprivation and around the clock needs of the new baby. Spells of sadness or moodiness are common for new mothers. Postpartum Blues may begin anywhere in the first two months, but should fade by one to weeks later.
Depression – Postpartum Depression affects roughly 20% of new mothers, and can present itself at any time within the first year postpartum. PPD is characterized by an extended duration of unusual crying, appetite changes, and thoughts of harming herself or her baby, although not every mother with PPD experiences every symptom.
Psychosis – Postpartum Psychosis affects approximately .1% of new mothers. Onset is sudden, usually within the first 4 weeks postpartum. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions and rapid mood swings.
PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can impact mothers of live babies as well as mothers of babies who have died. If the pregnancy was traumatic, if the birth experience was horrendous for the mother, she may suffer PTSD. Unresolved issues can compound the pregnancy, birth and early motherhood experiences, such as unresolved childhood sexual abuse or unaddressed grief from a previous pregnancy loss or elective abortion.
Recognising what could be baby blues and earlier in time could really make a difference. If you are a friend, it may be helpful to mention to the partner your observation or speak to someone that the friend will listen to, so that she can be available for the new mother to help her go through the moments of overhwelmingness and bring in calm. You could offer to help with tasks that another person can do, like bulk cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the house because things can get on top of each other quite quickly in this phase and it can cause loads of anxiety, isolation and sadness to a moment that should be otherwise joyous.
And sometimes all she needs is someone to be available to say 'it is ok to feel what she is feeling, it is ok to be exhausted in the moment, it is ok to let baby cry for a bit because sometimes no amount of cuddling, soothing, shooshing works. Sometimes babies just need to cry and we need to learn to let them do, that as long as they are safe. To allow the friend understand that it is ok to talk about the hardships and frustrations as she transitions, so that she knows she is being listened to, she will be heard
Thu, 23 November