All through history it has been seen that motherhood is a state that most women aspire to achieve; this is despite the many challenges that come with transition to this title. The transition dictates a lot of changes in a woman’s life, including changes in her physical appearance, her future goals, her relationships and her sense of identity, making it a very personal process. Being a prescribed gender role, motherhood is also a public experience; this is because the woman’s body is expected to be naturally capable or childbirth and motherhood. This notion is followed by the assumption that women will automatically ‘know’ how to nurture and rear children. Despite this expectations , a significant number of women fail to go through the transition as smoothly as expected. Up to one third of women making the transition have been reported to experience a kind of emotional disturbance during the transition to motherhood. this emotion disturbance, either anxiety or depression, experienced for days, a couple of weeks or months after giving birth has been clinically classified as post natal depression.
Post natal depression is a term that has different meanings to different groups of practitioners. However, it is ascribed to symptoms such as feeling exhausted, unhappy and unable to cope with the demands and needs of the new life. It is a state of emotional disturbance that “can begin anytime during the first two months of your baby’s life. The symptoms of depression are variable; but what distinguishes them from normal adjustment symptoms is that they persist after your baby is six to eight weeks old, and seem to affect you most of the time rather than just some of the time. You may notice extreme changes of appetite—either overeating or under-eating. Changes in sleep patterns are also common—sleeping more, or having broken sleep. Other symptoms include tearfulness and crying spells, a short attention span and problems concentrating, and spells of depression…. As with other hormone-related syndromes like PMS, you may find yourself increasingly irritable and over-sensitive” (Dunnewold and Sanford, 1994).
It is important to distinguish between the maternity blues, mild to moderate post partum depression and post partum affective psychoses.
“The majority of women suffering from post natal depression do not even recognize they are ill. They believe they are bogged down by utter exhaustion and irritability. It is all too easy to blame their condition on to the extra work the baby brings to their new life ‘’(Dalton, 1980:4). It is evident that motherhood comes with a list of duties and responsibilities that a woman is supposed to do this is despite the fact that the woman’s power and capability in the current society is limited by it’s patriarchal nature among other challenges that end up bringing about great psychological strain for the mothers.
If this is the case, then why do women consider and desire to become mothers? Researchers have attributed this to the biological capability of women to have children, the socialization process that prepares them for this role and makes them equate adult femininity to motherhood and marriage. Post natal depression has been found to have costly consequences that not only affect the woman but also the whole family’s survival. For example an “infant’s emotional and cognitive development may be affected and a ‘rejected’ and dejected partner may leave home. A desperate mother may decide to end her own life and/or that of her children” (Cox and Holden, 1994). The strain in personal relationships with family and friends and the inability to meet the needs of the child leads to the mother having more feelings of inadequacy.
This brings us to the conclusion that, motherhood is a state of being that most women desire to have. Despite the challenges, like post natal depression, that come as one adapts and gets used to the new roles and responsibilities. We have discussed that the challenges that arise due to post natal depression not only affects the mother but also the child, the partner, friends and family at large. Hence there is dire need for intervention from experts on the matter; we are happy to let you now that Psyche-Intervention has a team of psychologists who are trained on how to assist individuals struggling with post natal depression.
Do you feel like you or a loved one needs assistance transitioning to motherhood or handling post natal depression? Reach out to us and we will promptly respond to help you book an appointment with one of our experts.
”The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its challenges…”
― Goldie Hawn
“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
― Dorothy M. Neddermeyer