The birth of a child is often considered to be the most joyful and welcomed experience of a woman’s life. She has spent months planning and carefully executing every space and area in her world to care for her child. Then the day comes and she is holding her infant in her arms, and where she thought she would be filled with excitement and joy, there is only a numbing weight. The awkward feeling of holding a stranger. The baby comes home and needs more than she can give. She stares into their sweet eyes trying desperately to connect and comes up empty. Everything feels off. She is lost in sadness and despair. Fear and wild thoughts flood her mind and she wonders what is wrong with her. Nothing is the way she imagined that it would be.
Instead of going to the doctor or seeking a therapist, many women languish in their own quiet misery. They wait, hoping that one day it will get better. That in the same way that they might slowly get their bodies back, their minds and emotions will return, as well. It is not always the case and many mothers put themselves in a dangerous position by suffering in silence. In fact a recent study revealed that 1 in 5 women will never reveal that they are dealing with this traumatizing disease. Keeping quiet and persevering prevents parents from getting the help that they need. There are services, medications, and people who want to help get women back to their best self.
Many mothers fear the label that they will receive if they admit that they are struggling. They worry people will think that they don’t love their children or that they’re a bad parent. What most don’t realize is that when they gave birth, their bodies dramatically dropped in two key hormones, progesterone and estrogen. Estrogen is particularly responsible for the production of serotonin which leads to feelings of happiness. The thyroid can also take a big hit, which makes it harder to lose weight, increases fatigue and the risk of depression. Understanding that there is well documented science behind the extreme moods affecting women can help them to seek the assistance that they need.
The study, which was conducted by North Carolina State University, looked at the amount of women suffering from postpartum depression, about 10-20 percent, and the amount who disclose their struggles to their physician. It was found that 21 percent never share their emotional issues with anyone who could help them. Since mood disorders can dramatically impact the mother and child, both physically and mentally, it is important to seek help.
The research revealed that those who share a strong support system and those deeply impacted by stress were most likely to reach out for help from their healthcare providers. The encouragement is to help mothers build groups of powerful allies that can help them through obstacles and to identify emotional struggles. With a culture continually isolating, it’s not enough to allow social media to be a connection. Women need to have a group around them who can encourage them through all of the hardships that come with welcoming a child into their home. As more research is done, it is to be hoped that the stigma will lessen, and more will come forward to seek the help that they need.
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