Science 11 Jun 2016 Stressed out IT City ...

Stressed out IT City’s new mothers battle postpartum blues

Published Jun 11, 2016, 7:26 am IST
Updated Jun 11, 2016, 7:26 am IST
7-13 per cent of women experience depression during pregnancy and postpartum period
 7-13 per cent of women experience depression during pregnancy and postpartum period

Bengaluru: “It was exciting to have a baby. At the same time it was depressing. I don't know how to express it. These mixed feelings started a week after my delivery,” said 29-year-old Surabhi, the proud mother of a baby boy. “I was feeling sleep-deprived, then there was the feeding and I had a lot of mood swings,” she added. Surabhi was suffering from what is known as “baby blues.” She is not alone. Many women feel this way 2-3 weeks after delivery, said experts. “Depression can occur during pregnancy and following childbirth (postpartum period).

Some 7-13 per cent of women experience depression during pregnancy and postpartum period,” said Dr Geetha Desai, Associate Professor of Psychiatry. She has been associated with prenatal psychiatric services at Nimhans. At least one out of every six women in developing countries experience mental health issues during pregnancy, and at least one in five women suffer from depression and other illnesses after childbirth, according to a WHO study.

These could range from anxiety about the baby to depression and in rare cases, postpartum psychosis. According to another study, one out of two women will experience some depressive symptoms in the first year after childbirth. “Postpartum blues or baby blues are not considered an illness, but a normal part of childbearing. A lot of emotions and hormones are churning at a huge rate, and some women might cry for no reason at all. They don't come to a psychiatrist,” says Dr Parul Tank, Consultant Psychiatrist, Care 24. “Depression that occurs within six months of childbirth may be postpartum depression,” added Dr Parul Tank. “Postpartum depression is marked by long-lasting, severe symptoms characterized by ‘down’ moods, crying spells, poor sleep, negative thoughts, low confidence, anxiety related to the health of the baby and sometimes suicidal thoughts,” explained Dr Geetha, getting specific.

Highlighting the warning signals, Dr Geetha said, “When the mother is feeling low, unable to sleep (even if the baby is sleeping), has become less interested in taking care of the baby, has crying spells, is unable to breastfeed… all this may indicate depression if persistent.” For mothers suffering from PPD, experts advise medication along with counselling. According to psychiatrists, anywhere between 1 in 5 or 1 in 8 (depending on the type of PPD) mothers experience postpartum depression. It is the most common complication of childbirth — even more so than gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. Although expectant mothers receive screenings for gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, they don’t for PPD.

“The medications that are given are safe, but still for many mothers we advise a time gap of 4-6 hours between medication and breastfeeding. Alternatively we also advise them not to breastfeed for sometime while on medication,” said Dr Parul. She added that mothers should try and pick up the signs and not sweep them under the rug as this is a common problem.

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