Throughout pregnancy, we prepare for only one thing, the arrival of our baby or. at birth. Of course, we also deal with the development of the child in our body, with our well-being and with the preparations for childbirth, which, if we are pregnant for the first time, is just a vague idea of something we do not know.
Preparations for the postpartum period
We usually prepare for the postpartum period if we are mothers for the first time, mostly by preparing clothes, cots, prams, reading another article in a magazine about teeth or cramps, peeking into a pram or looking for a lively 18-month-old who is being hunted by her mother. park. We can also promise ourselves a lot about our baby, adopt a couple of rules, how we will treat the baby so that he will not be spoiled, think about how long we will breastfeed him, what food we will give him and where we will take him all. Of course, we think about the joys of the postpartum period, because that is why we also decided to have a child and we are sincerely looking forward to it. We are also aware, albeit more vaguely, that not everything will probably be as easy as we expect, of course there will be some sleepless nights, but we will simply tolerate this, we think.
Experiences of the postpartum period
The postpartum period is, of course, a more powerful experience than childbirth itself, in the sense that we are usually more surprised by the postpartum period than childbirth itself. Childbirth is an intense but short experience that can leave good or bad feelings about the course itself, and the postpartum period is just as intense, but a long period that does not pass even after 12 or 24 hours, as childbirth.
Significantly different is the expectation of parents who already have one child. Pregnancy itself is less and less a special experience after the first one, and preparations for childbirth and expectations are clearer, although the experience of pregnancy and childbirth can also be more difficult and complicated than the previous ones.
The experiences of the postpartum period can, of course, also be very different, as children are quite different and perhaps more demanding than the first, depending on their health condition as well as psychological characteristics. Secondly, and of course further on, parents are relieved of the feelings of insecurity that otherwise arise at the beginning of the postpartum period regarding almost all matters relating to children when we first become parents.
When getting used to the first postpartum period with a child, longer experiences of living with a small child – brother, cousin, children of friends, and of course working with small children – babysitters, doctors, etc., help, but the experience with your own child is completely different. , mainly because of the responsibility we take on as parents.
Why so much attention to the postpartum period will be clear to all mothers only when they have already given birth and will have their first experience of motherhood.
Before our own experience, the postpartum period cannot be understood
My own experience as a mother and workshop leader in the pre- and postpartum period shows that pregnant women and their partners who are expecting a baby for the first time cannot really understand, understand and accept the challenges of the postpartum period. Therefore, I actually recommend that pregnant women read the material while reading this article, but pay more attention to it only after giving birth, because only then will they be able to better understand what I am writing about.
At this point, I will try to show all the colorfulness of the situation in which moms find themselves very soon after giving birth. So I will write mainly about emotional states, feelings and dilemmas that a mother can get into during pregnancy, soon after birth and also during early motherhood, with an emphasis on the shady sides and the challenge of the early period with the baby. We will shed the postpartum hardships, shed light on them and reveal them so that mothers will no longer feel lonely in their challenges.
Forms of perinatal distress
According to comparable research from abroad, official health data indicate the following distribution of distress.
The first group of distress is called the postpartum sadness, which occurs on the second or third day after birth and lasts for a maximum of seven days. There are an estimated 14,000 women a year in Slovenia who experience this mildest form of distress. Signs may include mood swings, sadness, crying, the individual may feel anxious or be very irritable.
Another form of postpartum distress is called postpartum depression. Based on comparable research, it is estimated that 1,800 to 3,600 women a year in Slovenia experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a disease that (often) requires psychiatric treatment. Signs appear later than signs of postpartum sadness, most often in the first three months after birth. The basic indicator of postpartum depression is a bad mood, loss of interest and ability to experience joy for most of the day. There are also problems in the areas of nutrition, sexuality, sleep and general energy.
The third form of distress is called postpartum psychosis, and it affects one or two women out of thousands, which means that 18 to 36 women a year in Slovenia experience severe distress. Postpartum psychosis is a rare but very serious condition that requires immediate help, its treatment is effective.
10 years of experience on the counseling telephone and forum for postpartum distress in Slovenia show that most perinatal distress is comparable to postpartum grief, but it lasts longer and is milder than postpartum depression and can occur later. However, distress also happens to mothers during pregnancy, usually at the beginning or towards the end of pregnancy. Many minor hardships can soon pass, also with the support of locals, professional support or. by talking and / or connecting with other moms where they share experiences and power.
Reasons for postpartum distress
In the postpartum period, many mothers are so overwhelmed with the baby that they do not notice that they have neglected to take care of themselves and their most urgent needs. This can be one of the key reasons that distress occurs.
Another reason for distress is the feeling that they do not feel their child and cannot connect with him immediately, so they are very critical of themselves as mothers. In this modern idealized world, where the dictates of efficiency, consumerism and, of course, happy motherhood or parenting, there is simply no room for women to confess their plight.
Magazines and the media most often show an idealized picture of postpartum depression, only occasionally have we been informed about “postpartum depression,” or other “illnesses”. So a black and white world. At this point, however, we want to correct this mistake and talk about all the possible challenges that mothers and parents can face during pregnancy and early motherhood.
It is good to remove the distress, be aware of it and start resolving it as soon as possible, otherwise it increases in solitude and becomes a “psychiatric illness”. If the distress is tackled too late, psychiatric treatment is unavoidable, ie medication or, in an extreme situation, hospitalization.
Mothers, on the other hand, very often know very well what to do, what the solution to their distress is, but they cannot do it on their own, and it is often necessary to consult a confidential and loving woman and / or expert. The emotional sensitivity of the mother and the child’s helplessness and addiction keep the mother in a dilemma, making it difficult for her to take a step out of distress on her own. Help is needed and relatives who seek support can do a lot here.