Postpartum Depression is one of the most common perinatal mood disorders that affect women after child birth. According to Postpartum International (PSI), 1 in 7 women will suffer PPD in their lifetime. To bring this closer home, think about seven of your friends who are new moms. It is likely that 1 of the 7 will struggle with PPD. In Kenya, there are more than 1.5 Million births annually (Statistics from UNICEF). Assuming that most of these births are not multiple births, we can assume that as many as 200,000 women are predisposed to PPD in Kenya alone. These are sobering statistics, and it is this grim reality that spurred us to raise awareness, reduce stigma of PPD and provide psychosocial support for affected moms. With this in mind, what are some of the symptoms associated with PPD? In an attempt to reduce stigma of PPD, we have decided to add these symptoms without the medical jargon,and as simply as possible.
- Intense anger (sometimes directed at the baby) and persistent irritability. You tend to feel angry, rage, at anything, everything, anyone, everyone, and that precious baby is no exception. It is feeling an uncontrollable resentment, especially at the people that matter.
- Crying, often accompanied by overwhelming sadness. The period after delivery, for most moms, will be characterized by lots of tears, usually tears of joy. For a good number however, PPD shows up with tears of anguish, tears of trouble and sadness that sinks to the pits of your soul.
- Emptiness, Numbness. There is nothing to look forward to, not your life’s, not your baby’s. You feel like a leaf, drifting in the afternoon breeze to the land of nothingness. Simply going through the motions, dreading the thought of another dark day.
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, hopeless and helpless. Guilty because moms are not supposed to feel this way, they are meant to bond with their babies. Those toothless smiles of you and baby on Instagram? Those snuggly cute feet you posted on Facebook? Forget about that, Just a mask to hide the longing persistent pain of PPD. Ashamed because, I don’t know if this happens to other moms, plus, doesn’t my baby deserve better? Hopeless, what is there to hope for in this endless rabbit hole? Helpless, no one seems to understand what I am going through. No one seems to understand why I can’t bond with my baby. No one seems to understand why, and neither do I, I hate my baby so much.
- You are unable to bond with your child. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot seem to experience the ‘magic’ of motherhood that the media and society has painted.
- You cannot seem to get sleep when the baby sleeps, or even at any other time. Sometimes you doze off, and when you wake up, you cannot go back to sleep, no matter how exhausted you are. for some moms however, it is a case of excessive sleep, so much so that they cannot take care of their babies. However you look at it, your sleeping patterns are wrecked, and it is not just because there’s a new baby in the picture.
- You do not have any appetite, and cannot bring yourself to eat in as much as you know that you need to breastfeed the little one. On the flip side, some moms find that the only thing that can get them through this phase is food – so the overeating,then the weight gain, then a poor self esteem, and it is a vicious cycle.
- You feel overwhelmed: ‘I can’t do this, I never get it right, I am poor at motherhood, I shouldn’t have chosen the ‘family way’… And you are petrified. Scared at the thought of been unable to pull it together and be a good mom. And confused about this thing that just hangs over your head… for days on end, this thing that you can’t comprehend.
- You are constantly in dread, an awful feeling like something really bad is about to happen – but you cannot put a finger on it.
- Your mind is extremely busy, it feels like your thoughts are always racing, with no break to breath. Some moms will experience a very noisy state of mind in a quiet world. The latter comes with the isolation of PPD.
- You know, deep down, that this is not normal, that something is amiss, that something doesn’t feel right. Afraid that this is the new harsh reality before you, that this is the new normal, and worst of all, the old, boisterous person you were before motherhood is gone forever.
- You are scared that if you ask for help, you will be met by a judgmental lot, because good moms don’t live like that, good moms don’t feel that way, good moms don’t hate their babies… and maybe they will take your baby away!
- Thoughts of self-injury and/or injuring the baby. You feel like self-injury will justify the pain. Many moms will feel suicidal because it feels like an escape from the struggle.
BUT, we are here, to listen, to provide a shoulder and to walk the journey with you. Please contact us using the Contact Page and check out the support group therapy page if you need someone to talk to or need referrals to medical professionals. Other things you need to know:
- You may experience one, a combination or all of the symptoms mentioned above. Whichever the case, do not suffer alone in silence. Reach out, talk to us because with help, it gets better!
- For pregnant women with the same symptoms, please realize that it is not uncommon, and you are not alone either. You may be suffering from Antepartum/ Antenatal Depression, for which there is help as well.
- Some moms will experience these symptoms well past the one year mark. This could indicate that the PPD was never addressed, and that you are still struggling. Do not be afraid to reach out for help.
Remember, You Are Not Alone.