One of the tenets of reproductive rights is that every mother is a happy and willing mother, and that all children are wanted and planned children. But what happens when your child is wanted, planned, and loved, yet you are not so happy?
Babies are hard work. They bring happiness, joy, and fulfillment, but they also bring tears of joy and frustration, thoughts that you can do nothing to calm this screaming child in the middle of the night, and that maybe, just maybe, everyone would be better off if you weren’t around. I don’t have children myself, so I can’t even begin to imagine the roller coaster of emotions that women must go through after giving birth. The pressure that new moms must feel to “instinctively” know everything about children and how to care for them must be overwhelming. Most of the women whom I know to be new moms are doing this for the first time so the learning curve is even steeper.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is generally not a topic discussed between the squeals of “she’s so cute” or “he has your eyes.” One of my closest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby boy a little over a year ago, and although he is the coolest kid ever now, he wasn’t always that way. Since he entered the world, he has been making his presence known, and that meant many sleepless nights and barely-awake days for his parents. I remember going to see the new family a few weeks after they brought him home only to find Mom in tears and Dad holding his head in his hands at the thought of another night with a screaming newborn.
Postpartum depression can be classified into three types of depression according the Canadian Mental Health Association. They estimate that almost 50% to 80% of women will suffer from the “baby blues,” which is the minor form of postpartum depression. Three to twenty percent of all mothers will suffer a more severe depressive state actually called postpartum depression. Postpartum psychosis, the third class of depression, is rare according to the CMHA.
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As the statistics show, almost half of all moms will suffer from some sort of PPD, yet it is rarely talked about. Many women that experience these emotions are told that the feelings will pass, and not to worry about it. However, as with other types of depression, “getting over it” can be hard to do. PPD is real, and many women experience it. As with other areas of reproduction, we should get over the stigma and get the women the help that they deserve. I am thankful that all of the women in my life had good support systems as first time moms, but for those women out there that are struggling with their emotions, understand that you are not alone and that what you are feeling is very real. For more information on PPD, check out the Pacific Postpartum Depression Support Society or the Canadian Mental Health Association.