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Postpartum depression: When it goes unnoticed it can affect the mother-baby bonding

Postpartum depression affects the mother-child bond in more than one way.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : August 8, 2018 6:19 PM IST

Women, you have to admit it that pregnancy, in our culture, is overhyped and highly romanticised and this is one of the many reasons why nobody speaks about the gloomy postpartum phase the follows after childbirth. So, to break the bubble, in reality, the postpartum phase is a gloomy, tiring and depressing one. No, this has nothing to do with your love (or lack of it) for your child. It is your hormones that are making you feel depressed and helpless. Close to the heels of baby blues a mother can also suffer from postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is different from baby blues. Postpartum blues (PPB) or baby blues are relatively a common phenomenon, occurring in 50 to 80 per cent of women. PPB usually starts after the third postpartum day, typically peak by fourth or fifth day and spontaneously remits within two weeks of delivery. However, postpartum depression lasts longer and affects a mother's and baby's well-being.

Despite being fairly common, there is very less awareness about postpartum depression which makes it go unrecognized and hence untreated. Unrecognized and untreated postpartum depression in a mother may negatively affect mother-infant or mother-child bonding. It may also affect the infant's well-being and development as well. Here Ms Akanksha Pandey, consultant clinical psychologists, Fortis Hospital, Rajajinagar, explains how postpartum depression affects mother-baby bonding.

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"For a child, it increases their risk of delays in cognitive development, emotional and social development. PPD also leads to exhibit behavioural problems such as sleep and eating difficulties, temper tantrums, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attention-seeking behaviour in kids. This happens because there is a reduced interaction between the mother and the baby which delays or impairs development," says Akanksha.

Around 20 to 25 per cent of women continue to experience severe symptoms of PPD which may persist for more than two weeks after childbirth. This condition is classified as postpartum depression (PPD). It is equivalent to major depression that occurs within four weeks of postpartum. The symptoms include depressed mood, frequent crying spells, feelings of inadequacy and guilt, irritability, inability to cope, unusual fatigue, lack of interest in pleasurable activities, decreased sexual interest, sleep and appetite disturbances. All these troubles make it difficult for the mother to concentrate on herself and the baby affecting the initial bonding between the two.

"It also puts the child at a risk of early onset of depressive illness. It affects the attachment the child has to his/her mother which is important for the child's development and deep emotional bond with her. For mothers, it increases the risk of further complications, self-harm tendencies, emotional neglect towards the child, active suicidal ideation and physical problems as well due to poor sleep and appetite," informs Akansha. This is why it is important for the caregivers to understand the symptoms of postpartum depression and help the mother to get adequate treatment to improve the mother-baby bonding.

Image source: Shutterstock

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