Though giving birth to a new baby can be amazing, in some cases parents feel absolutely over whelmed by the experience of having a new baby in their lives. Somehow there seems to be a clash of feelings of their apparent excitement during pregnancy and a complete turnaround of feelings when the baby actually arrives.
Postpartum depression is estimated to affect an estimated 20% moms and 10 % dads. Many parents are never diagnosed with this condition, which can become a very significant issue in the functioning of a family. PND or PPD can include feelings as varied as lack of confidence, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, selfharm and /or even thoughts of harm to the baby, general sadness for no reason, compulsive thinking, fear, and feelings of not being good enough. For many women one of the most distressing aspects of PND is the difficulty in bonding with their child. PND is often poorly managed by health care providers, and can be misunderstood by the community and dismissed as “just the baby blues” or “tiredness.” It is common for sufferers to feel very alone and unable to explain just how they feel and why it is so difficult to endure. It can be absolutely devastating to those suffering from PND or PPD.
When could this happen?
New parents experience some of these feelings periodically due to the adjustment of hormones to get balanced out soon after birth. Some mums do not recognize these symptoms. PPD may occur anytime during the first year of baby’s birth.
Why could it happen?
The Birth of a baby can be an overwhelming experience for new parents due to a contrast in their life before baby came. Paced around their work and friends, hobbies and interests, which take a complete backseat to care for a new baby, the changes can seem very sudden and unexpected and the loss of control over the same can be a huge ordeal for the new parents to deal with. Topped with constant fatigue due to the childbirth and initial days of coping with baby’s feeding and sleep schedules. Some of the factors that make it worse are an unsettled baby, difficulty to establish a breastfeeding schedule and practical lack of support.
How can one help oneself?
The most important thing to realise is that it’s ok and many parents have faced a similar problem and have been able to reach out and get help and have overcome PND. Mothers facing postpartum depression can get professional counselling and reach out to medical professionals to combat the problem. Its very important to reach out for professional help. Some of the alternative ways to release the problem to assist with the professional and or medical help required to deal with PND are:
Babywearing can assist in reducing some of the risk factors for PND, can mitigate some of its effects on the maternal-child bond and can be used as part of a range of alternative therapies for treatment. Studies have found that: Babywearing reduces infant crying significantly. In a study published in the journal researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43%. Less crying means less stress for the mother. Babywearing helps infants fall asleep more easily and sleep longer,both of which also reduce the mother’s stress. Babywearing helps give breastfeeding a boost whereby the let down for the breastmilk is faster and easier due to the baby being so close to the mum. This helps establish a better breastfeeding relationship with the baby. Babywearing increases the mother’s confidence in her ability to care for her child. This benefit has been documented by research comparing Kangaroo Mother Care, a specialized form of babywearing for premature babies, to typical neonatal intensive care.
Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that this increased confidence also applies to mothers at risk for or suffering from depression or postpartum depression. Babywearing skin to skin helps relieve postpartum depression through the release of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. The Journal ofObstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing found that mothers who got six hours of skin-to-skin contact with their infant in the first week, followed by two hours a day for the next month had fewer symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Saliva samples were taken to measure new mothers’ stress levels through the hormone cortisol. Mothers engaging in skin-to-skin contact showed lower levels of cortisol, meaning that they were less physiologically stressed. Babywearing is the practical way to get that much skin-to-skin contact. A good place to start babywearing would be a wrap like the Anmol Wrap
2. Going out
Another way to feel better when suffering is to get out of the house when babywearing. Babywearing actually allows a mum to keep baby close and have two free hands and handling the baby. There are Babywearing Meetups and Mom to Mom meetups organised in different cities in India where you can goand meet other mums.
A babywearing yoga class and meditation is a great way to ensure you get out of the house andmeditation is known to help deal with PND. No matter how your progress remember self compassion helps. Be kind and loving to yourself. There are also some meditation Apps available to download on your phone.
Babywearing can also be used as part of alternative therapies for treating depression such as exercise and light therapy. A walk outside with the baby each day is not only a valuable way to settle the baby, but it may also positively impact on the mother’s mental health. There are some special yoga classes where one can babywear and do yoga. Babywearing is obviously not a replacement for medication where it is necessary. In conclusion, babywearing can reduce some (but not all) of the risk factors for PND. It can reduce some of the impact of the depression itself and form a part of the treatment plan for PND.
Meet the Author:
Rashmee Bhatia Gajra, is an architect by profession and a mom of two boys. She is passionate about Babywearing & Breastfeeding. She firmly believes that these two aspects of nurturing make a huge difference to the baby and parent alike and are the foundation to raise independent strong resilient children.
She breastfed her preemie baby against all odds but couldn't gently babywear her firstborn. That changed with her second son and she was able to breastfeed and babywear till he was almost 2.5.
To share the knowledge & benefits of amazing Babywearing - she now makes gentle Babywearing possible through Anmol Wraps (a wrap styled ergonomic babycarrier) that can be used for a baby from 0 days old to a toddler. She also runs the Mumbai Sling Library (a pop up library) to encourage parents to try out different kinds of ergonomic babycarriers.