Childbirth can be one of the most rewarding, exciting and happy phases of a mother’s life. Yet, for some women, these feelings of happiness are eclipsed by self-doubt, depression and anxiety, which can be triggered by mental, physical and behavioural changes. This is known as depression after childbirth or postpartum depression.

What causes postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is caused by the sudden drop in hormones post delivery. Oestrogen and progesterone levels increase tenfold whilst a woman is pregnant, however, after delivery there is a sharp drop to pre-pregnancy levels. This coupled with the responsibility of caring for a newborn child, could lead to depression.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to the effects of a regular childbirth. Mothers face severe fatigue, reduced libido, reduced appetite and difficulty in falling asleep. However, there are additional symptoms that may point to depression, like a perpetual feeling of worthlessness, loss of pleasure and suicidal tendencies.

What are the measures to overcome it?

If postpartum depression is identified, there are several measures that can be taken to help a new mother. Exercise, in addition to, a good diet can help new mothers adapt to their new lifestyles easily. Spouses can also play an important role in making their partners feel worthwhile and wanted. A combined effort should be made to adopt a way of life that suits both partners and the baby, by limiting visitors, screening phone calls and aligning your sleep cycles with your infant’s. Over time, as your life settles into a rhythm, the symptoms of depression should fade away. If you find that you’re taking longer than usual to adjust, make time to see a doctor.

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