BENGALURU: Have you ever noticed the portrayal of new motherhood in a Bollywood movie? The to-be mother cries in pain and the sound of the crying baby follows. Motherhood begins. It’s all smiles and sunshine now. No struggles, sleepless nights, body-image or emotional attachment issues. This depiction couldn’t be further from the truth.
Motherhood is a completely new and unique experience that no one can prepare you for. It brings with itself a beautiful set of experiences, as well as its own slew of challenges and demands. Being a new mother can be challenging. Many new mothers experience emotional vulnerability because their body is trying to adjust to a sudden drastic change and hormones are raging.
New Mothers Feel Low
About 80 per cent of women experience restlessness, random spells of crying, tearfulness, and sadness. A majority of them also have concerns about their relationship with their spouse, in-laws, and colleagues. Constant mood fluctuations coupled with sleep deprivation, takes toll. Quite a few mothers find themselves asking, “I have given birth to a beautiful baby. I love my baby but why do I feel so blue? Everyone is ecstatic, except me.”
This is a phenomenon a lot of women experience, called postpartum depression. Additionally, some women also find it difficult coming to terms with their body image after pregnancy. This can add to the whole “feeling blue” phenomenon.
Postpartum anxiety is common in many new mothers. It is caused by a natural instinct to protect one’s baby, and often that is expressed with hyper-alertness and hyper-vigilance. Postpartum anxiety often results from hormonal shift and imbalance. Estrogen and progesterone levels increase 10 to a 100-fold during pregnancy, then fall to essentially zero within 24 hours of delivery. Some symptoms of anxiety are:
■ Shortness of breath
■ Chest pains
■ Tingling in hands or feet
■ Trembling and shaking
Highlighted Attachment Issues
A new study recently examined how well couples react to becoming first-time parents. New parents, particularly those with pre-existing attachment issues, suffer from stress because of the drastic transition in their lives.
Acting as caregivers, and taking care of an infant is particularly difficult for them. They also feel less satisfied with children in their lives and are more likely to focus on their work while leaving most of the childcare responsibilities to their partner or child-care centers.
Riding The Roller
The stress that new parents experience can have a dramatic impact on their marital satisfaction, and their mental well-being. Parenthood is an overwhelming journey. It’s important that you take preventive measures for the issues you may face as new parents, considering that now you’re also responsible for the new addition to your family. Dealing with postpartum depression, anxiety and other stressors can be difficult for both of you, so adequate rest is always advisable.
Taking turns in nurturing the baby and sharing your feelings can help build the relationship and make the journey less challenging.
It’s Okay to
Seek Professional Help
If you feel overwhelmed, you can and should seek professional counseling. Women sometimes don’t seek support because they’re afraid that it makes them horrible mothers. It is not true. It is a natural process. So schedule a therapy session with a counselor if you’re struggling as a new mother. Being a mother is a roller coaster ride with its challenges and good moments but hang in there and stay strong, You are doing an amazing job and it is worth the ride.
The author is a psychologist at YourDOST.com