Postpartum sadness is a relatively common condition among mothers who have recently given birth. The birth of a baby involves several issues, which are sometimes not considered due to the euphoria and concern linked to the birth, care, and growth of the newborn child.
Mothers not only go through a series of postpartum body changes but also experience a variety of emotions. The home environment in which they live and the relationships they have can contribute to their intensification or appeasement.
Because of this, each woman’s experience of motherhood may not occur as imagined for so many months or years. Psychological conditions can interfere with your mood and self-confidence to care for your new baby.
What is Postpartum Sadness?
Postpartum sadness is a very common condition among new mothers, reaching 80% of them. It appears shortly after delivery and lasts for approximately two weeks, disappearing naturally over time. This sadness is not considered a pathology.
Due to the sudden changes in the body and way of life of mothers with the birth of the baby, as well as the high production and sudden drop of hormones, they need time to adapt to the new reality.
During pregnancy, psychologists explain that mothers go through a long phase of idealization. They idealize the baby’s appearance and behavior, the moment of birth, the newborn care routine, the healthy development of the child, the way to educate them, among other scenarios.
When the baby is born, it is necessary to transfer all feelings from idealizations to the real world. Some women find it difficult to adjust to their new lives as mothers.
Mothers’ reactions to the postpartum period do not differ due to a supposed inability to be a good mother, but rather to the emotional state, personality, and experiences of each one. This thinking can influence women’s self-esteem and unduly feed the feeling of guilt.
Postpartum Sadness vs Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can arise from moments of sadness after the baby is born, but other factors also contribute to its onset. It is not so common, affecting between 10% and 15% of women. As it is a more intense condition, it can last between a month and two years.
This type of depression usually appears between the fifth and sixth week after the child is born. The depressed mother feels inadequate to care for the baby and has a feeling of rejection for the baby.
Other symptoms include:
- Constant sadness;
- Changes in appetite;
- Negative view of life;
- Self-deprecating feelings;
- Low self-esteem ;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Memory lapses;
- Unwillingness to care for the baby or excessive care;
- In severe cases, suicidal thoughts and delusions.
As there is still a lot of ignorance about postpartum depression, depressed mothers do not usually understand why they feel so unwell. Because they feel ashamed, they hide their difficulties and avoid contacting family members.
In this way, negative feelings can also go unnoticed by the family or the pediatrician. Therefore, postpartum depression can worsen over time.
Reflection on the role of new mothers
As there are both personal and social expectations about the role to be played by new mothers, they may feel bad about being sad, tired, or angry after such a special event in their lives.
However, these conditions that affect the emotional state of mothers and influence the experience of motherhood are common reactions of the organism. The drop in hormone production facilitates the emergence of negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, and irritation.
Women in this situation begin to question their competencies as mothers, as well as their relationship with motherhood. Thus, doubts, guilt, fear, and worry arise.
Women should not feel bad about having developed postpartum sadness or depression or blame themselves for allegedly creating trauma in their children. As soon as they notice the persistence of negative feelings and emotions in their daily lives, the ideal is for mothers to seek professional help to take care of their mental health.
It is common for mothers to be unaware of their atypical behavior at this stage, although they are bothered by sadness and anxiety.
So warnings and advice from partners, family, and friends can help them to understand how they feel and seek help. So they shouldn’t be dismissed as meaningless concerns.
What can I do to treat these conditions?
Postpartum sadness and other conditions can be treated and prevented with psychotherapy. How important is therapy for new mothers or the couple planning to have a baby? Have you ever stopped to think about it?
Psychological support is usually sought when pathology is already installed and debilitating people’s lives. But it can also be done before exceptional events to prepare people’s emotions to experience changes in their lives, such as the birth of a child.
Couples therapy can be beneficial already after the couple has decided to start a family. Conception can take a long time for some couples, resulting in internal conflicts, marital disagreements, and sadness. For others, pregnancy can be a difficult period.
With the guidance of a psychologist, the couple lives these situations without succumbing to stress and excessive worry. Instead of fighting, the couple bond and support each other, strengthening the relationship.
When the baby arrives, they are ready to face the next challenges together, even with a lack of experience and knowledge.
Individual therapy for new mothers
For mothers, especially, therapy can be essential during the months of pregnancy and the first years of the baby’s life. The psychologist can provide the emotional support necessary for them to move away from guilt, fear, and feelings of inadequacy.
It is normal to have doubts and simply not know what to do when taking care of a newborn child. Even with the support of the mother, other mothers, and health professionals, women can still feel insecure. However, new mothers don’t have to blame themselves for this.
Guilt is one of the fuels for postpartum sadness, which can silently turn into depression.
Therapy can help them build their self-confidence, overcome anxiety and change their beliefs about motherhood, which are usually loaded with demands and expectations.
Other issues also weigh heavily on new mothers in the postpartum period, such as returning to work, changing habits, and the relationship with the spouse. They can also be taken to a professional so that women can find ways to deal with them painlessly.