Pregnancy and childbirth are one of the most ecstatic events in the life of newlyweds, it also brings with it wholescale changes in diverse areas especially physiologically and emotionally. Often times the joy of delivery of babies are critical changes in a family’s life especially the woman’s life as it changes her forever. It is further important as its filled with many thoughts, expectations and challenges irrespective of the number of the deliveries had before, however, more importantly in the first timers. After child birth the physical, psychological and hormonal changes continue and could result in depression in some women which known as postpartum depression, often called “new baby blues” this is a mixture of mood swings after childbirth. It is important to note that this type of depression does not only affect mothers. One study found that around 10% of new father’s experience postpartum or prenatal depression. This is because postpartum depression is about the changes that occur in the lives of the new parents (psychologically, physically and around their lives).

What is Postpartum depression? Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional and behavioral changes that happens in some women after giving birth. It’s a form of depression that begins within first few days after birth to about 4-6 weeks after delivery which could range from mild to severe. Like earlier noted, this form of depression has been linked to chemical, social and psychological changes that happen after when having a baby. PPD describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience.

The symptoms of PPD is similar to major depressive disorder which includes: Low mood after birth, crying spells (excessive crying), difficulty bonding with baby, withdrawal from everyone especially loved ones, sleep disruptions, appetite changes, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, mood swings, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability thought of death or suicide ideation are some of the common signals of mothers having postpartum depression experience. At first it can be mistaken for the normal tiredness after birth (baby blues) but its differentiated by its intensity and length of time and finally its interference with handling and care of the baby and post-delivery functioning.

PDD is not because of emotional weakness, not because a child is unwanted, not only because a couple is fighting or problematic relationships and is not caused by evil spirits. In some instances, a more extreme disorder can develop from childbirth called Postpartum Psychosis.  

Different factors can increase the chances of postpartum depression and these could include: history of depression prior to becoming pregnant, or during pregnancy or family history of depression, previous diagnosis of bipolar disorder, age at time of pregnancy (the younger you are, the higher the chances), distressing physical changes of pregnancy, excessive worry about the baby and the responsibilities attached to parenting, complicated or difficult labor and childbirth, lack of family support, hormonal changes etc.

PPD in new fathers can be as debilitating as in new mothers (though less investigated) as they feel sad, overwhelmed or with anxieties over the new roles they are about to take, they have unusual changes in eating and sleeping patterns. Often the symptoms in fathers had been linked to previous history of depression, relationship problems, financial problems and job difficulties. Sometimes it’s called Paternal postpartum depression.    

Whether Paternal (Postpartum) depression it can have the same negative effects on the relationship (marriage), life, career and ultimately the child development. It can be dangerous if left untreated. A new mom should seek professional help when;

Any negative feeling after birth symptoms persist beyond 2 weeks, when functioning is affected, difficulty in coping with everyday situations, when there are thoughts of harming oneself or the baby (or expressions of such) and she feels extremely anxious, scared and panicky most of the day.

PPD is better handled and treated if the mother expresses how she feels to people she can trust, rather than repressing the emotions. There is a risk of partners or other loved ones feeling shut out, which can lead to other relationship difficulties.

A lot of people with postpartum depression cannot express the way they are feeling; therefore, it is loved ones that often notice first. Even when they can express it they often do not know what to do about these feelings. If you see these aforementioned signs and symptoms of depression in a loved one or suspect that a friend or loved one has postpartum depression or is developing postpartum difficulties, DON’T KEEP QUIET, help them seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement. Contact us 081 2827 6962, +234 2291 4084.  

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