A child’s birth comes with many strong emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. It can, however, lead to something unexpected: depression.
For about two weeks after giving birth, most mothers experience mild mood changes and feelings of worry, unhappiness, and exhaustion. It is natural for mothers to feel tired or overwhelmed at times because they are coping with many new demands - and getting little sleep.
If the mother’s mood changes and feelings of anxiety or unhappiness are severe, or if they last more than two weeks, she may be suffering from depression. In medical terms, it’s called ‘Postpartum depression’.
If you are depressed, you are unlikely to improve unless you seek treatment.
How does postpartum depression come about after childbirth?
After childbirth, most new mothers experience mood changes which include mood swings, crying, feeling anxious, and difficulty sleeping. The mood swings typically start two to three days after delivery and can last up to two weeks.
However, for some new mothers, these symptoms can be more severe and last longer, resulting in depression.
This is referred to as Postpartum depression (PPD), a form of depression that women get after childbirth. Its symptoms include difficulty bonding with the baby, inability to sleep, feeling sad most of the time, and irritability. It is not a mistake or a weakness. Sometimes it is simply a side effect of giving birth.
Fathers can suffer from postpartum depression too. New responsibilities, the pressure to provide for a growing family, and coping with their partner’s stress are some of the factors that contribute to men experiencing postpartum depression too. Men with a history of depression and those with financial difficulties have higher chances of experiencing depression.
Seeking treatment for postpartum depression can help manage symptoms and bond with the baby.
What factors may increase a mother’s risk of experiencing depression after childbirth?
Some women might be at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum depression for reasons which vary from person to person. Some of these factors include:
Graphic: Some common causes of postpartum depression/Julisha.info
What are the signs of postpartum depression
Most symptoms of depression after childbirth are like those experienced by a woman with depression during pregnancy. These symptoms are discussed in this article
Apart from those symptoms discussed earlier, some of the following symptoms may indicate postpartum depression:
- Lack of interest in yourself and your child (Ignoring the baby) and difficulty in bonding with the baby
- Mood changes such as intense irritability and anger, severe anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, severe mood swings, crying a lot and having panic attacks
- Feeling shame, worthless and fearing that you are not a good mother
Watch this video about postpartum depression as discussed on NTV Kenya’s Health Diary program
What to do if depressed after childbirth
If you feel that you have postpartum depression, it is important to seek help because it can get worse if not treated.
Apart from that, it is also important that you:
- Get enough rest and try to sleep when the baby sleeps.
- Include healthy lifestyle choices -such as taking a walk with your baby- into your daily routine
- Schedule some time to be alone to do something you enjoy. You can request your partner or a friend to take care of the baby during this time.
- Eat nutritious meals that are filling and take plenty of fluids to help with the production of breast milk
- Ask for help from your family and friends
- Avoid alcohol and drugs- alcohol is a depressant and might make you feel worse. It can also be passed to the baby through breastmilk and interfere with its growth.
Can postpartum depression affect the child?
Having postpartum depression can affect a child in the following ways:
- Having trouble bonding with your baby can cause delays in their abilities to think and reason and to talk and communicate. It can also affect their social skills.
- A depressed mother might not take their child for medical checkups and routine vaccinations, and not notice when their child is sick. This affects the child’s health
- Children need involved and attentive caregiver and if their mothers are not able to provide this, their general health, growth, and development can suffer.
Where to get assistance if depressed after childbirth
If you suspect that you or a person close to you has symptoms of PPD, it is important to talk to a healthcare worker such as your community health worker, a doctor or nurse as soon as possible. These health workers have been trained to recognize symptoms of PPD and will support you to get the help you need.
Besides getting medical assistance, friends and family members can help women overcome PPD. This means that friends or family members also have a role to play in ensuring that the mother and the baby are safe.
Family members can help in the following ways:
- Help with domestic chores to allow the mother more resting time after giving birth
- Listen to her and let her know that you understand her concerns.
- Help her to accept what she cannot change by talking to her and not scolding her or making her feel ashamed
- Ensure she eats a balanced diet, sleeps well and gets enough rest.
- Help her with getting items from the shops or market
- When she feels low, allow her to cry or vent without judging her
- Offer unconditional support to her in talking care of the baby
- Educate yourself on the different signs of PPD so that you can monitor her, and in case she needs counseling link her with a specialist
Where to get help
|Danish Refugee Council (DRC)||PCEA Eastleigh Church||Phone: Toll-free number 0800720309 to book an appointment.|
|Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK)||Haki House, Ndemi Road||For counseling support – Call 0716391412 or 0703820361|
|National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK)||Jumuia Place, Lenana Road||Phone: 0704873342|
|Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Kenya||
1. Eastleigh Office
2. Kayole Office
3. Kawangware Office
|Health and Social Economic Development (HESED) Africa||Eastleigh Section 3 Biafra||Phone: 0722736637|
|AIC Health Ministries||
Nalemsekon Dispensary: 0702637769Naregae Dispensary 0745330015
|International Rescue Committee (IRC)||
Kaapoka Health Centre (Main Hospital) - Kakuma 1
Lochangamor Dispensary (Clinic 4) - Kakuma 1
Hong-Kong Dispensary (Clinic 2) - Kakuma 1
Nationokor Dispensary (Clinic 6) - Kakuma 3
Ammusait (General Hospital)- Kakuma 4
IRC Mental Health Helpline:0792067135
|Danish Refugee Council (DRC)||DRC Helpline: 0800720414|
|Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)||Ifo Refugee Camp||Phone: 0701494904|
|International Rescue Committee (IRC)||Hagadera Refugee Camp||Phone: 0704600513|
|Doctors Without Borders (MSF)||Dagahaley Refugee Camp||
If you have any questions, please write to us via the Julisha.Info Facebook page, or chat with us on WhatsApp (+254110601820) Monday through Friday from 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.