What do you do when, aside from being excited and overjoyed on your baby’s birth, you are consumed with feelings of loneliness, anxiety or sadness? Postpartum depression or PPD is a condition that affects a lot of new Mothers and is something that certainly needs to be identified and treated and NOT brushed under the rug.
The symptoms and severity of this condition can also differ widely from one Mom to another, making it even more important to speak out and consult somebody if you sense that you are suffering from this condition.
Having studied the symptoms and effects of PPD and having counselled numerous patients herself, new mom Elina Wadia believed that she understood the condition well, UNTIL it happened to her. Find out how she identified and treated her Postpartum depression in this interview with Team Softsens.
Meet Elina Wadia, a nutritionist, doctoral student, blogger, former professor and now mommy to Boo – her sweet 7-month-old daughter. This is her story.
Q. Thank you so much for speaking out honestly on a topic that some may find hard to talk about. Was there any specific moment that made you realize you wanted to share your own experiences to help other new Moms?
Ans. I was flooded with all kinds of advice soon after delivery. Every Tom, Dick and Harry had something to tell me (read: warn me about). Amongst the several unsolicited opinions I received, one was to not share my delivery story with anyone or talk about the pain I went through. I was taken aback, and then understood that there are so many pre-conceived notions and myths associated with motherhood because of which there’s a huge communication gap between the already-mothers and to-be mothers. This is one major reason why new moms face Postpartum depression (PPD) these days - because they’re mentally not prepared for what’s coming. Hence, I decided to write so that in my own small way, I can reach out to moms across the globe and tell them that they’re not alone.
Q. Before you had your baby, had you heard of the term ‘postpartum depression’? If yes, what did you know about it?
Ans. Oh yes, being a medical student, I had read about it zillion times. In fact, I wanted to take up PPD and its association with Gestational Diabetes as my PhD topic. But as they say – you don’t really know something until you face it. No matter how well read you are, and no matter how many patients you’ve counselled, it’s a completely different thing when you’re at the receiving end or on the other side of the spectrum.
Q. What were those early signs/symptoms that you noticed which made you realize something was amiss?
Ans. I was all geared up for motherhood. Excited. Armed. Over the moon. But soon after she arrived and a week passed, I started finding myself crying alone. I started to miss pregnancy. I missed being alone. And ironically, I became ultra-possessive about her. I was drowning in a plethora of emotions. I was unsure of what was going on and most importantly, I was happy but not happy. That’s when I knew that something was definitely wrong.
Q. At what point did you feel that you had to discuss it with somebody and how did you go about it?
Ans. It took me a while to open up. I thought I’d be judged, people would find me crazy for not being happy despite being blessed with a healthy and beautiful girl. I feared that I’d be considered ungrateful. But then I knew, that if I didn’t open up and vent, it would make it worse. That’s when I confided in my mom and I was surprised at how calmly she responded, as if she knew exactly what I was going through!
Q. How did your family and others around you react to your condition? Did you feel supported by those close to you?
Ans. I chose whom to share my feelings with very wisely. Because getting dissentient reactions was the last thing I wanted. It was my mom, husband and my best friend, and all three gave me just the right kind of support I needed.
Q. Once you realized that you were suffering from PPD, what were your next immediate steps?
Ans. First was to share and talk about my feelings - half of my anxieties ended there. Next was to seek help. I made sure to take more breaks for at least 15-20 minutes each and let someone else take care of her. Third was to go out alone with my husband. My mom offered to help and took care of my daughter while my husband took me to restaurants or outings within a month of delivery. There’s a lot we go through - both physically and mentally. Such breaks are quite justified and they help us feel rejuvenated.
Q. What were the different lifestyle changes that you adapted to cure PPD? Were you recommended something specific by your doctor?
Ans. I didn’t consult my doctor about this because I have personally studied a lot in this area. But I would highly urge other Moms to speak to their doctors.
First is to understand your baby’s sleep cycle and make sure to sleep as much you can so that your body gets rest and stays energized.
Second is to practice yoga to calm down the mind and de-stress.
Third, go for walks if possible, with a mom or friend. It helps you connect and makes you realize that you’re not alone. You also learn about motherhood and tips and tricks to make your tasks easier.
Fourth, eat healthy and wholesome. Have plenty of water and stay hydrated. It’ll help in calming down your system.
Q. How long did it take before you started feeling better?
Ans. It lasted for 4-5 weeks maximum. For me, it was mostly about getting accustomed to the newness and change. Once I was adjusted, it slowly settled on its own.
Q. Based on your own experience, can you share some helpful advice for other Moms who are facing a similar situation?
Identify your condition and don’t worry, it’s pretty common. You’re definitely not alone!
Choose wisely whom to share your feelings with.
Don’t take anyone’s opinions to heart. Become deaf ears. Believe me, you’ll be happier that way.
Stay calm, take breaks and don’t shy away from asking for help.
Sleep and relax as much you can.
And lastly, smile. It’s a temporary phase. It’ll be gone before you realize 😊