Child Care - Post-partum depression
It is estimated that 50 percent of all women suffer from some form of the blues when returning home with their baby. This can be caused by several things. There is a let-down that comes from having an event that you have prepared months for be over. This can be accompanied by the fact that the pregnant woman is the center of attention until the baby comes. Then the baby is the center of attention.
The physical fatigue that comes with birthing, nursing, and caring for a child that has to be fed night and day can also lead to exhaustion and depression.
Some parents take several weeks to bond with their babies. The baby may feel like a stranger when the parent (not just the mother) holds him. The baby, for all practical purposes, is a stranger. You are just getting to know his wants, needs, and desires. Each baby is unique in the way he wants to be held, in what the different types of crying mean, and how he responds in general to life around him. Even experienced parents must get used to this new being and his new personality. This takes time. So the sensation that you are not madly in love with or attuned to the child is neither unusual nor incomprehensible. The feelings will develop as you become more comfortable with your baby.
The feelings of inadequacy that arise from all of these potential sources of depression may increase the depression. You may feel like an inadequate or deficient parent because you are not as good a parent as you expected. The ability to be a parent takes time and learning. You should allow adequate time to develop the skills that make you comfortable with your new baby.
If, after several weeks, you still have feelings of depression and inadequacy, talk to your doctor about counseling. It may be a passing problem or it may be tied to other aspects of your life. A good counselor should be able to help you sort everything out and get to the root of your insecurity with your baby. But, again, allow yourself a normal amount of time to adjust without brow-beating yourself about it.
Both fathers and mothers can suffer from post-partum depression. It is important that the new parents communicate with each other about their feelings and their needs. Chances are that the other parent will not only understand what you are feeling, but will be experiencing some of the same feelings as well.
Other methods of handling this period can include talking with other parents about the new stresses that accompany parenthood. Support groups, new parent groups, and other such gatherings may already exist in your community. If not, try to start one, provided it doesn't add a major burden on your time.
If you miss some aspect of your life before baby, such as going out, then make some effort to treat yourself to such an occasion. Talk with friends and keep from isolating .yourself if you feel a need to share company. If, however, the problem is too much company and no private time, then feel free to establish visiting hours, as you would have in a hospital when someone else is watching out for your health and well-being.
Serious post-partum depression
Severe post-partum depression that requires immediate counseling has the same symptoms that require immediate counseling even without a baby. The symptoms include: suicidal thoughts, violent urges (particularly directed inward or toward the baby), chronic insomnia, extreme lethargy, loss of appetite, complete inability to function, and general sense of despair. Any of these symptoms should be discussed thoroughly with your physician and/or a counselor as soon as possible.