After 10 months of anticipation, the day finally arrives. You get to hold your new-born baby for the first time. You are so overcome by emotion, so totally in love with this little being, you feel your heart might burst with happiness. You get to go home, and life with your little miracle begins. The first few days’ worth of awe and excitement starts to wear off, as you try to settle back into your life before your little one (life b.c. - before child). By now, the sleep deprivation starts to set in, and the rose-tinted glasses start to come off. You slowly start wondering, who in their right mind, would send a baby home with you...without supervisor!
You realize you have NO idea what you are doing, and the effects of the sleep deprivation takes an even further toll on you. By now, your hormones are flying the coop, you probably realise you are ill equipped for this parenting thing, you feel 100% overwhelmed, you pretty much want to give the baby back and feel like the worst parent in the world because of it.
You have barely taken a shower, nor managed to drink half a cup of ice cold coffee, eaten half a can of cold soup in divided efforts to get some food into your body. You look like death warmed up, you smell, you are covered in baby vomit and you have baby poop under your finger nails. The most basic task of going to the loo, making dinner, taking a shower, doing laundry and getting dressed, becomes a frantic scramble with zero outcome, because you can't put the baby down for two seconds, or they scream.
By the time your spouse gets home, you basically throw the baby at them, and run to take a wee, shower, anything, that does not involve holding a baby. Three seconds of peace and quiet. But alas, baby starts crying, and despite your spouses’ best efforts to help, baby ends up back in your arms half way through whatever you were trying to do. It finally boils down to you weeping with the baby. And that, is just the day. You start fearing night time, because that is when the screaming begins, and if you are lucky, you will get about two hours of interrupted sleep that night, finally sitting with baby on your chest, praying for morning to come.
To add further insult to injury, you feel like the worst parent ever, wrought with guilt, because you pretty much hate all of this, and you find yourself wishing you could have your old life back. Then on top of everything else, you have post-partum hormones, bouncing off the walls, pushing you over the edge.
It was only after I joined a mommies group, who spoke open and honestly, about what the first few months of motherhood felt like to them, that I started to realize, I was not alone. I am not a bad parent, it is normal to feel totally overwhelmed and ill equipped. Wanting to throw the baby out the window once or twice is normal too. No one tells you how hard it is going to be going in, or maybe they do, but you have zero frame of reference, so you are totally unable to compute the magnitude of what they are saying. The only way to know, really know what it feels like, is to live through it, and nothing and no one can prepare you for it, the only way out, is through.
Finding a group of like minded new mommies, all with the same fears and anxieties, the same doubts and worries, literally saved my life. But many women do not have the opportunity to be surrounded by a such a support network. I often see new mother's in my practice, with dark circles under their eyes, the desperate expression on their faces, the oily hair and pale faces. They try to act 'normal' for two first few minutes (because, surely they are supposed to love this, and any other feelings makes them feel ashamed), then baby starts crying, and I see their shoulders drop. 'Go ahead and feed them, I say'. And as they settle baby on the breast, I smile and say, 'what you are feeling is totally normal'. I can see the tiniest of flicker of hope, as I talk them through the first three months of life with a new born and what to expect, and they sob, because they thought they were awful for feeling totally overwhelmed. Although you love this little being with everything in you, you are not coping and that is okay.
Postpartum depression does not affect everyone, and there are many women that flourish during this time, everything seems easy and they are back in their nine-inch heels with perfect hair and make-up within two weeks…making you feel even more inadequate and like a total failure as a mother. For the rest of us, non-nine-inch heels type of gals, with the reflux baby or the colic baby, let us take a closer look at baby blues and post-partum depression (PPD).
Baby Blues vs Post-Partum Depression
All of the above mentioned, can be totally normal, this phase, commonly referred to as Baby Blues, is part of the transitionary phase we go through the first couple of days to one or two weeks after baby is born. The signs and symptoms of baby blues include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Trouble sleeping
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
Baby Blues differs from PPD (Post-partum depression) in that the symptoms only lasts a few days to weeks after baby is born, and then improves as time goes by. You should feel better after a week or two, if however, you notice your symptoms worsening after the initial two-week period, you might be suffering from PPD
PPD is a serious mental disease and should be treated immediately by a health care professional. Signs and symptoms of PPD include the following:
- Feeling sad, hopeless and depressed
- Mood swings including intense anger and irritability
- Excessive crying
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame and or guilt
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
- Feeling inadequate or an overwhelming sense that you are not a good mother
- Indecision, diminished ability to think or concentrate
- Loss of or excessive appetite
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself and or your baby.
All the above symptoms can be normal if experienced for only a brief period. We all feel irritable or sad sometimes, we all suffer from anxiety or feel overwhelmed at times; however, these feelings are fleeting. When your feelings of inadequacy, guilt, sadness etc remains excessive and for prolonged periods of time, it is time to seek urgent medical attention.
How can Homeopathy help for Baby Blues and Post- Partum Depression?
Homeopathy works based on ‘like cures like’. If a remedy can produce a symptom picture when administered to a healthy individual, then it should cure the same symptom picture in an unhealthy patient. There are several homeopathic remedies used to treat PPD. Each person is treated as an individual, therefor, after an extensive case taking is performed, your Homeopath will choose a remedy based on your individual needs and your specific symptom picture. Sepia 200 is one such remedy used to treat baby blues and PPD, with the following symptom picture:
- Excessive prostration, exhaustion and faintness in morning on waking
- Indifferent to those loved best
- Aversion to company yet dreads to be alone
- Very sad
- Weeps on telling stories
- Sensitive, irritable and easily offended
- Anxious towards evening
- Fearful over trifles
- Poor memory, makes mistakes
- Irritability alternates with indifference
- Wants to commit suicide
- Intolerant to contradiction
- So nervous, she wants to hold on to something or to scream
- Irritability from excursion.
This is only one example of several homeopathic remedies, that might fit your symptom picture. Help is out there, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Do not suffer in silence, if you suspect you might be suffering from PPD, please contact your health care professional to make an appointment as soon as possible. You are not alone, PPD effects 1/5 woman and is a debilitating condition, which is 100% treatable.
I will leave you with my five tips for mothers with a new born.
- GET HELP! Ask your mother, your sister, your best friend, anyone who can take some time off, to help you out for a few days in the week. Even if it is only for an hour over lunch. Just to hold baby, so that you can take a nap, or take a bath, have a warm cup of coffee or something to eat.
- Find what works for you and yours. With my first child, I tried to do everything by the book, including forcing her to sleep in her own cot, because I was petrified she might stop breathing during the night, so she had to sleep on the Angelcare baby monitor pad in her cot. I NEVER SLEPT. We were up with her every hour on the hour for 20-40 minutes. She had reflux, so she comfort-suckled at my breast, and as soon as I tried to put her down, she would cry. With my second daughter, I knew better, and after a week, we were co sleeping, and mom and baby actually got decent shut eye. No two children are alike. Find what works for you. There really is no right or wrong way of doing things.
- Baby wearing. My baby wrap saved my life when my first daughter was 6 weeks old. I put her in the wrap, and she LOVED it. Being so close to mom, comforted her, and kept her semi upright while she was sleeping, which soothed the reflux. I had two hands to make coffee, make dinner, do laundry etc, while she peacefully slept against my chest. My go-to baby shower present became a baby wrap...only to find that my second daughter hated being in that wrap. Like I said, there is no mold and every child is different, but it is worth a try.
- Ignore the "experts", the fanatics, the extreme pro-natural groups or the anti whatever else groups. Always trust your source, only an expert can have an opinion when it comes to the health and well-being of your new-born baby. I have a friend, who is a clinical psychologist. Whenever someone tries to give their opinion on varies subjects, she will always ask them, quite earnestly, "I am sorry, what exactly is your qualification". This is spot on, when it comes sensitive issues like sleep training or baby weaning, co sleeping or bottle feeding, otc remedies or homeopathic treatment for various ailments etc, you need to go to the source (paediatrician, clinical psychologist, homeopath, osteopath, educational psychologist etc). You cannot trust the opinion of individuals who proclaim to be experts in a specific field, but do not have the relevant qualifications. There are so many opinions out there, but try to trust your gut, which is very difficult to do when you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed. You, and only you, are what is best for your baby. No one can do a better job at looking after your little pip than you can. So, get a team behind you that you can trust, and make informed decisions.
- Breastfeeding. I mention this specifically, because it is such a source of emotional turmoil for so many mothers. I am not going to say anything about this, except to share with you my own personal story. I did not produce enough milk to feed my daughter. I am very pro natural and pro breastfeeding, so I was online reading up on various pro natural fanatic groups. I was basically told, there is no such thing as "not producing enough milk", and that I should just keep feeding on demand. A very long story short, after 6 weeks of basically no sleep, I took my baby to the pead for her check-up, and guess what, she was under weight for her head circumference (not those random charts, this was a reading based on my own daughter and not the average weight charts with average weight gained that you might find at your nearest clinic sister, who might in turn convince you your baby is underweight, when in fact, they are perfectly fine). My paediatrician confirmed my worst fear, so, after crying my eyes out, I bought the formula, and asked my husband to feed her while I cried some more in the other room. She gobbled up that bottle, and we never looked back. So started my journey of co feeding my daughter, and it was not the end of the world like I thought it would be. This is one aspect of breastfeeding, but there are so many issues that might make your journey even more difficult, like cracked nipples and tongue ties, too much milk and mastitis, incorrect latch and lactose intolerance issues. Get the relevant information and make a choice based on what is best for you and your family, even if it does not fit the idealistic idea you had in your head.