By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
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:
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:
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:
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.