Category: PPD Awareness

Moms share 5 things they wish they knew about Postpartum Depression

 

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illnesses; with statistics showing that 1 in every 9 moms will get PPD. Yet, as common as it is, many affected moms typically admit that they wish they knew more about PPD before they had it. They admit it would help them accept the condition and seek help faster. We asked some of the moms who have reached out to PPDKenya (and gotten help) what they wish they knew about PPD before child birth. Here are the responses:

  1. I wish I knew PPD steals even little joys

Lyn, a mom of two girls, shared how her PPD stole even the smallest of triumphs. She could not find joy in her motherhood experience, and this impacted her ability to bond with her second daughter. One of the ways in which Postpartum Depression manifests is through a mom’s inability to bond with her child. This does not mean that a mom hates her child; on the contrary, she may be overprotective of her bundle of joy, but just can’t find it within herself to bond and play with her baby.

  1. I wish I knew PPD is a treatable mental illness

Lucy, a mom to one said, “I wish I knew Postpartum Depression is a mental health condition that can be treated through therapy. “ One of the myths about PPD is that it is a permanent condition for which there is no help. PPD is a temporary condition for which treatment is available. Moms do get help, and go on to make a recovery. Part of the reason we continue to do awareness campaigns on Twitter (check out our previous #PPDKenya tweetchats here) is because when moms are aware, then they can know what the symptoms of PPD are and where to get help.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

  1. I wish I knew Depression after birth is NOT normal.

“Depression after birth is NOT normal, and I wish I knew this. Additionally, PPD affects both moms and dads,” Kristy shared with us. Many moms who reach out for help with PPD will often admit that a well-meaning person told them what they felt was ‘normal’ and it would pass. The truth of the matter is that PPD is anything but normal. When a mom starts to exhibit symptoms of PPD, and they go on for more than two weeks, then there is cause for concern. More importantly, moms are reminded that, just because you exhibit just a couple of symtoms of PPD, it does not invalidate your concerns.

  1. I wish I knew that it was possible to get Pregnancy depression and PPD thereafter

Jacinta* shared how, struggling with depression during pregnancy and not knowing what it was only compounded her symptoms after childbirth. Her pregnancy depression symptoms included weepiness (over just about everything), inability to comprehend a future with baby, so much so that she had intrusive thought even before baby was born. Left unchecked, Jacinta’s Pregnancy Depression morphed to PPD, and she shared how, knowing what she does now after support group sessions, she wishes she had gotten help earlier.

Read More: Treatment Options for Postpartum Depression

  1. I wish I knew how incredibly lonely PPD is.

Victoria* shared and said, “I am afraid of telling anyone close what’s happening anymore, because the last time I tried I was told that I have become ungrateful, so I continue to struggle with my PPD in silence. I feel so alone.”

The stigma associated with maternal mental illness means that moms feel ashamed for seeking help, and end up keeping it to themselves. The truth is that there is no shame in reaching out for help, and if you have PPD, please know you are not alone!

At PPDKenya, we understand what you are going through. We are here to walk the journey with you. We will help you get the help you need. Get in touch using our Contact Page.

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Myths about Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illness, as it affects 1 in every 5 moms. Yet, it is also often misunderstood, and this only adds to the stigma that makes it harder for moms to reach out for help. Affected moms will typically hear nasty things said to them about having a mental illness – from family, friends, co-workers and even ignorant healthcare providers. This creates myths which portray affected moms in bad light and leads to shame that prevents moms from speaking out.

The truth is that there is no shame in having a mental illness. Postpartum Depression is a treatable condition; it is temporary provided a mom gets professional help. This is what makes it important to sift through the myths and understand facts about PPD while encouraging moms to get professional help. Advocating for maternal mental health goes a long way in sensitizing the community and reminding moms that they are not alone.

Below are some myths that moms need not here anymore, alongside facts that every one needs to know about.

Myth: PPD is a visible illness

Fact: PPD is NOT a visible illness & while some moms may not be able to get out of bed, bond with baby or even clean the house, not all moms present this way. Some moms appear well put together on the surface, but may be struggling on the inside.

Read More: What are the symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Myth: PPD occurs immediately after birth

Fact: Upto 80% of new moms experience baby blues, a mild condition characterized by moodiness, crying episodes, difficulty sleeping and worries. This typically lasts up to 2 weeks; since the condition is mild, it tends to resolve on its own without requiring treatment. PPD however, is more severe, lasts longer and requires treatment. The most important thing to note is that PPD symptoms can appear at anytime during the first yr after birth. Many moms are confused when they start to notice symptoms of PPD months later, yet PPD may occur at anytime in the first 12 months.

Myth: PPD is a mom’s fault/ happens because of something a mom did

Fact: PPD is a real mental illness and NOT something a mom chooses to have. Affected moms often blame themselves foe having PPD when they cannot experience the mythical magic of motherhood. The truth is that PPD is caused by a number of factors (hormonal, psychological and social), all of which a new mom has no control over. To say PPD is a mom’s fault is grossly inaccurate and unfounded. PPD is not a mom’s fault.

Myth: PPD is a sign of weakness/laziness/bad motherhood

Fact: There is no truth in this. PPD is NOT a measure of strengthor how hard working a new mom is neither is it a reflection of her mothering skills. PPD is a mental illness for which professional help is available

Myth: Pregnant women cannot get depressed

Fact: 1 in 10 expectant women will get pregnancy depression. Pregnancy in itself, does not mean that a mom-to-be cannot get depression. Just like PPD, there are many risk factors associated with this form of depression (also known as pregnancy depression).Left unchecked, pregnancy depression almost always leads to PPD

Read More: Depression during pregnancy and what you need to know

Myth: PPD will go away on its own/ is something you can snap out of

Contrary to popular belief, PPD (and other maternal mental illnesses) is not something a mom can ‘just get over’. If it were that simple and straightforward, so many moms wouldn’t be suffering in the first place. This is a common, yet inaccurate statement affected moms hear. The truth is that telling someone to snap out of PPD implies weakness and only silences moms who would otherwise need help. Silence makes it harder for moms to get help & adds to the stigma thereof

Myth: You can recover from PPD if only you got more sleep

Fact: Granted, new moms will experience sleep deprivation and fatigue in the first few months after childbirth. This exhaustion does contribute to PPD, but getting adequate rest ALONE will not treat PPD.

Myth: PPD means a mom does not love her baby

Fact: A common myth that couldn’t be further from the truth. PPD is not a measure of how much/how little a mom loves her child. Depression affects a mom’s ability to bond with her baby, but this is not because she does not love her baby

Read More: When postpartum bonding is not automatic

Myth: Moms with PPD cannot make a full recovery

Fact: There are treatment options available for PPD, and that makes recovery possible. The earlier a mom gets help the PPD, the faster she is able to recover. We have had moms in our support groups make a full recovery, and continue to provide psychosocial support both online and offline for affected moms.

Disregarding these myths and providing factual information about maternal mental health is part of our advocacy work. If you suspect you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, please get in touch with us using this Contact Form and we will link you with professional help. And for the mom with please know:

– You are not alone

– You matter

– You can get help

We understand and we would love to help you.

This topic was the sixth in our series of bi-monthly tweetchats. If you missed it, or would like to see other topics we have covered, click this link.

 

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When moms are unable to bond with their infants in the postpartum period

Moms bonding with baby postpartum

A mother-infant bond takes time to develop after birth, and sometimes requires help for this to happen

Violet (not her real name) remembers vividly her pregnancy journey and birth experience. She recalls with nostalgia, the excitement she had when she saw the two lines on the pregnancy test. Almost immediately, she began fantasizing about the small onesies, the colourful bibs, the stocking up of diapers and the love that would surround her once her beautiful baby arrived.

As time went by, Violet could not help it. She was so excited and couldn’t wait to see her baby’s face. She imagined how she’d arrive in hospital looking prim and proper, have a seamless birth and leave looking just as beautiful with her tiny tot swaddled in warm blankets. She imagined getting home, looking at baby lovingly and rocking him to sleep on quiet nights.

A few days before her EDD, Violet went into labour and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. The moment he was placed in her arms, Violet shared, she felt an odd sensation. She didn’t feel that magical bond on first sight. “I was grateful to have had a safe birth, but when he was placed in my arms, I was shocked that the mythical magical bond was just not there. It felt odd, because while everyone was gushing about how adorable he was, I was frightened on the inside. He looked so small, and I wondered how my life would change with him in it.”

Violet would go on to get discharged from hospital and fight with the thought that she found it hard to bond with her baby. “Where was that instant bond I thought I would have with my son? How come I was struggling at the time? I did not hate my baby, I just couldn’t create the bond I always fantasized about when I was pregnant,” she disclosed.

Read More: The Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

Postpartum bonding, according to the Baby Center website, refers to the strong attachment a new mom develops with her baby. It makes a new mom want to show love and affection to her baby. It is what would make a mom take a bullet for her baby.

For some moms, this happens immediately after birth when the baby is handed over for skin-to-skin contact. For other moms, it takes a few days after birth, and yet for others a little longer than that, sometimes running up to a month or so postpartum. Part of the reason for this is that mother-infant bonding is an individual experience. It is an unfolding process because both the new mom and newborn are learning on the go.

The new mom is learning to nurse, to lull the baby to sleep, to care for the baby and even create a distinction between different cries- discomfort cries, I-need-to-be-changed cry, pain cries, hunger cries and everything in between. The new baby on the other hand, is adjusting to life outside the comfort of the womb. This can be exhausting, and may slow down the process of bonding.

In addition to this, some moms who are unable to bond with their babies may be suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD). Often linked to the sudden drop in hormonal levels, PPD, combined with the stress of been a new mom therefore, makes it harder for moms to bond with the baby. Other related symptoms include:

  • a sense of hopelessness that the inability to bond with baby will last forever
  • Anxiety that a poor bond makes one a bad mom
  • Withdrawal from social circles and events such as baby showers and kids’ birthdays
  • Feeling overwhelmed especially after using social media where the images painted of new moms reflect the magical bond
  • Excessive moodiness
  • In some cases, thoughts of causing harm to the mom/ the baby

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression – What to look out for

If you feel like you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, or know someone who shows any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to get help right away. Please reach out to us using the ‘Contact Form’ tab or call using the number on the top right of this page.

Violet went on to get help to assist her with her motherhood experience, alongside the support offered by her partner and family. Below are some suggestions to help new moms bond with their baby. While this is not a magic formula, it does help ease the journey.

  • Take time for skin-to-skin contact during cuddle time as this is both soothing and relaxing for the baby.
  • Breastfeeding often has also been shown to enhance wellness and allow feelings of attachment for the mom.
  • Look into the baby’s eyes, as you talk and sing to him. Play with him daily to help forge the bond. Some moms will find that reading also helps with bonding.
  • If you can, carry the baby in a front carrier to allow physical closeness.
  • Join a new mommy group to help you through the journey, and you will be amazed at how many other moms feel the same way you do.

When should you be concerned?

Many new moms tend to create wonderful bonds with their babies over a period of time. If, however, after a couple of weeks, you do not feel more attached than you did after birth, it is important to talk to someone. Remember, postpartum bonding is an individual experience, and if you are worried you may be suffering from PPD, there is no shame in asking for help.

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Project Baby Shower (PBS) – a befitting gift for every mom- and dad-to-be.

Project Baby Shower

Baby showers are a wonderful way to celebrate the impending birth of a new baby with the mom-to-be. They bring together family and friends to, not just present gifts to the baby, but more importantly, create a sense of community around the new mom. We are well aware that, for new moms and dads, parenting can be an incredibly lonely journey. That is why family and friends rally around the new parents ahead of delivery. For the most part, baby showers have achieved that, but as time goes by, many are now realizing that baby showers can be an avenue to provide insightful information on the dynamics around childbirth and parenting.

Read More: 8 things I wish I knew while I was pregnant

This is exactly what the wonderful team at Mother Care Africa has done. The team organized Project Baby Shower (PBS), an event that brings together pregnant women and their partners for a day to discuss different topics on child birth and beyond. Some of the topics include Postpartum Depression (PPD), Labour and Birth Preparation (Lamaze), breastfeeding, practical babycare as well as a Q & A session for each of the aforementioned segments. Our founder, Samoina, will be speaking on Postpartum Depression during the event, alongside other wonderful speakers including a midwife/doula and lactation expert.

Additional benefits of attending the event include the chance to form friendships with other moms- and dads- to be, creating networks with different professionals and journeying through parenting together. If you know a relative, friend or even you are expecting, this is a perfect gift. The information shared during the sessions allows better understanding about child birth and beyond. Best of all, it is open for everyone, whether one is getting their first baby or their fourth, at whatever stage of their pregnancy. For more details, get in touch with Waithera on 0721 634 048.

More details on the poster below.While at it, check out our Events page here.

Project Baby Shower

When: Saturday 14th July 2018
Time:  9AM to 4PM
Where: Along Ngong Rd, Do call Waithera on 0721 634 048 for details
Cost: 3000 for moms-to-be and 2500 for dads-to-be (Payable on MPESA)
RSVP Required

 

 

 

 

 

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Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illnesses. Research shows that PPD affects 20% of women after child birth, with higher rates in developing countries such as Kenya. In recent years, PPD has received a lot more attention, but the illnesses remain prevalent and untreated for the most part. This is why creating awareness and reducing the stigma of PPD is important. If you missed our last tweetchat on The Baby Blues and PPD, you can read it here.

Risk factors, just as the name suggests, refers to factors that increase the likelihood of a mom developing PPD. That is, what makes it more likely for mom A to get PPD and not mom B. The precise cause of PPD remains unclear, but it is thought to be linked to the sharp drop in hormone levels after childbirth. When this happens, alongside any of the risk factors mentioned below, then it means a mom is more likely to get PPD.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

One of the greatest risk factors for PPD is a history of depression and mental illness. Moms who have suffered depression before, or have lived with a mental illness are more likely to get PPD considering the physical and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy and child birth. Pregnancy depression, also known as antenatal depression, also increases the chances of PPD significantly, particularly in cases where it is left untreated.

Moms struggling with addiction to substance and alcohol abuse are also at a higher risk of PPD. This is because substances and alcohol may cause chemical changes in the brain, thus predisposing moms to the maternal mental illness. What’s more, addictions interfere with a mom’s ability to take care of themselves and the baby, increasing the intensity of the changes around the new mom.

Lack of support and/or prolonged isolation makes it easy for moms to develop Postpartum Depression. Without a solid support system to help a mom cope with the drastic changes following delivery, many new moms feel alone, isolated and often, overwhelmed. This is also the case for moms, especially young moms who get rejected by their families and/or father of their children.

Financial constraints/ lack of a job also increases the risk of PPD, for the simple reason that raising a child requires financial resources. From the cost of delivering to diapers, clinics, formula and everything in between, it is obvious that lack of money makes it harder for moms to adjust and certainly increases the likelihood of them developing PPD.

Read More: 10 things NOT to tell someone who is suicidal (and what you can say instead)

Major life events around the time of pregnancy and childbirth may also contribute to PPD. This is because they cause a major upheaval which adds on to the stress of raising a newborn (which is, in itself a major upheaval). Such life events include, but are not limited to job loss, buying a house, death of a loved one, divorce, relocating to a new town/country and the sudden change from a working mom to staying at home to take care of baby.

Moms who experience breastfeeding challenges are also more likely to get PPD, particularly in a society where there’s immense pressure to breastfeed. While we are cognizant of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, the truth is that not all moms can do it for a myriad of reasons (from medication to low milk production and terminal illness among others). With societal expectations that all moms should be able to breastfeed, it is little wonder that those who are unable to feel ashamed, and feel like they have failed their babies. This also ties in with the high cost of formula which, in cases of moms with no financial resources, may be out of reach, further increasing the chances of Postpartum Depression. It is important too, to mention that Breastfeeding has great benefits, but moms need to remember too, that is OKAY to supplement with formula.

Pregnancy complications such as Placenta previa, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Pre-eclampsia among others may lead to a traumatic birth experience which in turn is likely to contribute to PPD in new moms. This is also seen in moms who get multiples (twins, triplets, quadruplets etc), moms who get babies with special needs as well as those who have gotten kids following a miscarriage or infertility treatment.

It is important to remember that these are risk factors, and just because a mom has any of them does not necessarily mean she MUST get PPD. More importantly however, if you show any of these factors, it helps to speak to your doctor, gynae or midwife while still pregnant. This helps you to prepare for the journey, plan ahead and get medical treatment if necessary. Remember, PPD is treatable and you will be okay when you get help.

NOTE: PPDKenya is making a call out for moms with PPD, for those who would love to get therapy in a support group setting. We understand what you are going through and we will link you up with professionals who can help. More details here.

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