Being pregnant and giving birth can be very difficult. Postpartum depression affects 1 out of 8 women. Many say it’s because of the hormonal imbalances that women go through, but some say that it’s because of how society perceives pregnant women and what they have to say after delivery.
I’ve written an article about how my pregnancy helped me with my anxiety and depression, and I have always been mindful about what I think and feel because I know that pregnancy hormones can be a handful. Now I wonder why postpartum depression is prevalent and I think I have some answers.
Women are often pressured to make decisions for their pregnancy and delivery. There are so many life-changing decisions that have to be made and society dictates so many different things. Women can’t help but feel bad and helpless when these things come into play.
The first decision is how to deliver your baby. You can either go normal or get a c-section. The discussion about what is better has been going on for years now, and many are still against a c-section, calling it an “easy way out”. When you make this decision, many people will try to tell you what to do, what not to do, and even give their opinions, even though they haven’t tried either of them. That’s just how society works. I remember so many people telling me to push for a natural birth because they said it would be “easier” and I would recover faster. I got into a heated discussion with a colleague when I told her that I am considering a scheduled c-section. She even told me it was a foolish thing to do.
The pressure of making this decision can affect the mental and emotional state of a mother. Instead of just making the decision that she feels is best for her and her baby, she gets distracted by the opinions of others.
Another reason why mothers fall into postpartum depression is the lack of attention that she gets. Though having a new baby is exciting, most people forget that the mother also needs attention and support during this time. Many forget that delivering a baby can take a toll on a woman’s body and she needs support to recover. Most of the attention is on the baby and we forget that the mother needs time to heal to be able to be the mother that she wants to be.
In my experience, I delivered my baby via c-section and I was lucky enough to have my mom support me since she knew that it would take time for me to recover. She helped me throughout the ordeal and helped me take care of my baby while I was healing. Some mothers are expected to get up and take care of their babies as if healing is instantaneous.
Breastfeeding is another thing. Right after delivery, doctors, nurses, and everyone else will tell you to breastfeed. Don’t get me wrong. Breastfeeding is great; it is the healthiest choice for babies, after all. However, there is another side that people don’t talk about. Some moms don’t produce milk immediately and some don’t even produce milk at all. When people see a mom, though, they immediately ask if she is breastfeeding and tell her why she should. No one talks about how hard it is or how painful it is. People will immediately compare you to other mothers who breastfeed their babies and there you are, unable to defend yourself.
If science were to explain why many mothers fall into postpartum depression, it’s because of the hormonal imbalance. The hormones of a pregnant woman or a woman who had just given birth are all over the place, making her emotional about everything. This is the most logical explanation, but there are more reasons behind it. So support your friend or family member who is going through the same thing. Depression is real and you can do something to make someone feel less lonely.