Farhana Afrose Jahan:
One day I was talking to one of my younger sisters who had a baby of three months. Somehow I was feeling that she was not in a good mood. I found her irritated in her words although she was trying to manage. I immediately decided to spend some time with her to understand what happened to her. She was opened up to me while she got some space to talk. After talking around 15 minutes, I found that it actually happened from the depression she had after giving birth to her child. You may get surprised that motherhood is a joyful feeling for any woman then why so? However, it happens with most of the mothers of newly delivered babies. Unfortunately, for many cases, they are undefined, untreated and not even taken care of. Even we the family members don’t care to take into account the factors, issues or behaviors of a mother considering her changed condition. As a result, sometime it may have a very long term effect on mothers which essentially affect the babies and overall environment of a family. In Bangladesh, very commonly the mothers with such condition are misunderstood and misguided.
Postpartum depression is not a myth rather in the medical term it is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes associated with having a baby. In a cycle of pregnancy, care in three times is very much important for women. First, anti-natal care that is during pregnancy, second, during delivery of the baby and last of all but not least postnatal care. These cares are equally important both for mother and babies health. The first two steps are more or less maintained however as soon as the baby is delivered, everyone becomes busy with the baby. We start to think that now care is needed only for babies. We forget most of the times proper feeding, resting, entertainment and other normal activities for the mother. In this stage by postnatal care, we mean the babies only; we never think that a mother needs proper care besides her baby. After giving birth to a baby, a mother is given an impression that there is nothing in a mother’s life except taking care of the baby and doing household chores. A new mother is always advised by almost everyone on different things; don’t go out in the evening, don’t eat these things, feed your baby frequently, someone will say don’t feed so frequently, someone will tell to take more food while someone will put a restriction on taking some foods and more. That’s is the starting point of getting depressed.
After giving birth to a baby it is very much important to understand a mother’s psychology. Of course, taking care of her baby is her prime duty however she very badly needs mental support. Postnatal care should be obtained for mothers also. If necessary, counseling can help a mother. In most of the cases, if anyone goes for postnatal care, their physical condition is checked however she should be counseled mentally as well. We should give enough space to a mother to adapt properly to the changes she gets with a baby.
In the recent past, we had a few incidents that mothers killed their babies and then she killed herself. We tried to find out many reasons like relation with husband, extra-marital relations etc. I am not a psychologist but I think we could try to find the actual reason behind this. Did we try to find out whether they had any history of depression? The answer is no. Recently in January 2019, a mother in South Africa killed her four babies and when she handed herself over to police, the first attempt was made from the court to examine her psychologic condition by three psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist. No assumption was made rather she was referred for observation. There are many likeminded cases.
Babies are such for whom a mother can do anything, can live for them, can die for them but in a normal condition they never can let their child die, killing is far away. If it is an abnormal thing then it must be taken care of. We should not ignore any depression even if it seems very inconsiderable to others. We may think these type of depression can happen at any stage of life like in childhood also. However as long as we are in close contact with our own family members like parents, siblings there are chances to overcome those.
I am trying to put the attention to postpartum depression specifically. Because this is the most critical part of any woman with lots of changes. She might find she is not able to share her problems with anyone, her physical condition might not be in order, she may get disinclined, she might be irritated, she might cry and overall she might express herself in a way that could be gaudy to others.
Dear family members, do not ignore this, try to understand and help a mother. Also if a mother can identify herself in such condition, dear mother please try to help yourself. Try to understand your life is yours. If nobody helps you, come on and guide yourself on your own. Keep in close contact with someone you love most, you like most or you can rely upon the most. I am sure there is such a person in everyone’s life. Personally, I tried to help myself. As a research activist on maternal and child health, as soon as I found myself that I was not mentally okay I tried to find out the reason by reading articles or journals. Above all, I spend a significant part of the day talking to my sisters whom I found most lovable and reliable at that time.
Please share your problems, save your life, save your babies!!
The writer is currently working at the Nielsen Company (Bangladesh) Limited.