I have a child and I can not be sad. This phrase, which is not one of the most associated with pregnancy, is repeated in the head of a large number of women, although it is not usually verbalized or expressed. The connotations that pregnancy brings do not always meet the expectations that mothers have about this period. In our society predominates an image of pregnancy something idealized and biased due to the enormous joy that produces the arrival of a new member to the family.
Both pregnancy and the period after childbirth are moments of great vulnerability for women. During this time not only feelings of joy and joy appear, but also feelings of anxiety and depressive syndromes may occur. In fact, according to studies, between 10 and 25% of women have depressive symptoms after giving birth.
“I know many of you are probably thinking why I would publish this image, but it took me 18 months to get here, 18 months to not cry when I look in the mirror, 18 months to finally feel beautiful in my own skin again.”
-Alexandra Kilmurray- (Mother who suffered postpartum depression, a pioneer in publishing real images of her body on social networks after pregnancy)
Tear down the taboos about postpartum depression
Depression is a pathological alteration of the state of mind, with a decrease in mood and sadness, accompanied by vegetative, emotional, thought, behavior and vital rhythms that persist for at least two weeks.
Gestation is a stage of high incidence of depressive disorders and the puerperium is the period of greatest risk of depression in a woman’s life. According to Jadresic, the most frequent puerperal mental disorders are: postpartum dysphoria, postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (Jadresic, 2005).
Postpartum depression does not have a single cause, but is a consequence of a combination of physical and emotional factors. Postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do. After giving birth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in women fall rapidly.
The sublevels of estrogen and progesterone generate chemical alterations in the brain that can cause changes in mood. In addition, many women can not rest as much as they should in order to fully recover from childbirth. The constant lack of sleep can generate physical discomfort and exhaustion, factors that can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.
“Nobody warns you about the dark aspects of motherhood and pregnancy. No one tells you that you will change mentally and physically after you become a mother. “
How can the family and the environment help women suffering from postpartum depression?
It is likely that family members and friends are the first to recognize the symptoms of depression postpartum in a woman who has just given birth. Postpartum depression not only affects the person who suffers, both the family nucleus and the relationship can be affected.
The closest people should understand the state of mind of these mothers, even if they are happy and fulfilled by the birth of the baby. The family should provide women with postpartum depression with a context where they can speak without fear of being misunderstood.
Expressing the emotions of the situation they are going through, even if they are considered inadequate, helps them not to feel guilty. Understanding what happens to them is a point of inflection for the situation to improve, and it does not depend only on the person who suffers the disorder, but on the whole family.
If, despite family support, the symptoms persist, it is advisable and necessary to go to a professional. The first step for these mothers to understand what happens to them is linked to the acceptance of the emotions they are experiencing, even if they are unpleasant. When they are forced to be well and both the body and the mood tells them the opposite, the situation gets worse, adding to the emotional equation feelings of frustration.