Postpartum – Discussing about the elephant in the room…

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After a hiatus, back to blogging. To keep it simple, life took over and got the better of me.

Courtesy Wikipedia : Postpartum : 1844, from Latin post (“after”) partum (“giving birth”),[1] form of partus, from pariō (“I give birth”), from Proto-Indo-European *per- (“to bring forth”).

Disclaimer: I am no medical practitioner or psychiatrist. But the topic i am about to discuss is very relevant to parents and how families can avoid the mother from getting into PPD. This is not a prescription. This is article looks at ways and means of throwing light into a known yet unknown area of parenthood. Read and digest at your own will if i may say so

What prompted me to come back to blogging? A recent Women’s day topic of discussion. Postpartum depression predominantly occurs post second childbirth (close to 15%). What are the chances to be prepared for it? What is the role of the wife in this endevour? What is the role of the husband to ensure the wife is hale and healthy and can avoid getting into PPD? The challenges women face inside is not easy to put down in words. Leave alone the challenges they face in the external world.

We get acquainted with some of these challenges through personal experience or what a friend / friend’s wife experiences or when one has experienced the ‘Joint family’. For many countries Indian Joint families was a surprise. When i have explained to some people outside India while meeting them either on business or touristic trips, they were not able to relate to the possibility of large set of people living together in the same house (mind you house need not be physically large..the minds are). Also when i called out that close to 4 generations of people living together in the same house, i was laughed at saying ‘No Way!!’.

Joint families have impact over women in its own advantages and dis advantages. For men while they get to know such issues by being around with elders, it ‘might’ prove to be a lesser learning situation since you have all the women of the house managing any such challenges like postpartum depression etc within curtained rooms for long duration without the knowledge of men, stating reasons of ‘post pregnancy privacy’.

Western independent culture started seeping into various households. Finally women were getting empowered to move out and work, nuclear families gave way to not only financial and personal independence but also to see the world. It also came with its own set of challenges.

One such challenge is Bloodline support system, which has its Pros and Cons to it but is being depleted. Women who spend their life taking care of every other ‘being’ in the family, come to an age where their knees and calf muscles do not obey their orders, when they were having to take over their grandchildren’s nanny care instead of living their remaining life happily travelling to places of their choice, seeing the world, pursing their passion and spending quality time with their better half without intervention of work and ‘In-Laws’. Nuclear families have added to this complication by making them travel to ‘god knows where’ locations where the youngsters work due to global working economy.

Coming back to the topic of discussion, when a nuclear family faces this challenge of postpartum depression, it comes as a landslide due to lack of a support system. It kicks in sooner than you think and unless you are aware / educated about it, managing it at later stages become a bigger challenge. To add to it, the children get affected the most.

There are many innovative ways of being prepared and i am sharing a list of activities which could help (of course a medical practitioner counsel is always a must), below are just suggestions and tips to improve:

  1. Build an Exchange Program : Completely depending on the rapport and the conversational comfort and ease with which you interact within the concerned families, have discussions with both parents and grandparents if available. Learn as much as you can. Do not feel ashamed, even a notebook and pen (or) a digital listing of all these learning, then and there will come handy, and then for gods sake apply it from day one. Identify if anyone in the family or known relatives or close family friends had it and how it was handled. These are sensitive areas of family discussions and hence exercise at most care of what surroundings you are in during discussions. give your health-care practitioners the information they need to help you recover. The key here is if it works well for your personal situation, try the exchange program. Talking to your spouse’s parents. gives you a different thought process and maybe will open up new suggestions which even your parents may not have experienced. (Well…this is purely depending on the rapport and how much well being is taken care by the spouse’s parents… we all have our challenges!). For once, try to learn write and read for your spouse on various topics

2. Shut Eyes and Timely Filled Stomach: This is a known standard remedy which many ignore. Post second child birth, the challenge that nuclear families face many times is the non availability of a personal support system. Leave alone having someone help you with taking care of the kids. There is no one to remind you to eat on time, take tablets on time, sleep on time. relax a bit in a given day and stretch your muscles. There are situations where at work the person would have been a great program manager but when it comes to taking care of oneself, things go for a toss. It does not harm to use your digital assistant to verbally setup alarms at different times of the day (based on your and children’s sleeping time) to remind you do all the above. This is when you do not have a personal support system at home. This can be followed right from pregnancy as well. Sleep is the best medicine for many issues. Especially in this topic of discussion sleep deprivation is the first contributor to PPD. Taking care of the elder kid after getting all the instructions from your spouse in a timely manner and reporting to them when they are awake about what you have done and that she need not worry itself gives them a huge level of comfort to be able to sleep peacefully. Simple yet effective!

3. Avoid non-essential ‘Change’ until the first birthday of the second kid – Keep Stress Away: If not life threatening, avoid changing any personal or professional setup either during pregnancy or right after childbirth. Give it a year. Start your course of residential or professional changes after you celebrate your second kids’ first birthday. Different timelines will work better for different personal situations but this is just to state that delay it as far as possible you can stretch. Helps avoiding postpartum depression or even baby blues for that matter. Postpone family disputes / property disputes until a well defined time. All these add up to the stress of the mother and father as well. keep stress away.

4. Stay Fit : Current age women are well aware of fitness and i am not here to lecture on that. But it is also a point of consideration especially to get proper sleep and stay with a good appetite.

5. Create your robust support system: Parents, In Laws, Trustworthy relatives / family friends, Paid household help and post natal care are various ways and means of creating a conducive environment. Paternal care leaves have started becoming a well aware program in many companies now a days. Avail them at the right time for the personally defined duration that you need and provide the required undivided attention to your spouse and kids. ‘Switch off all your gadgets’. Keep issues around household fixtures to minimum. Make sure plumbing, electrical and essentials are never hampered. Plan well for these and have backup. Pay bills on time to avoid getting disconnected from any of the essential services. One might feel these are small small topics but every droplet counts. it is likely to snowball into a bigger problem unless planned and tamed

6. Spend time with your first Kid : This needs to happen well in advance even from when you plan your second kid. But the important factor is post child birth, depending on the age gap a lot of discussions in the right time at right positive dosage will help. Do not overburden them also. Give it is small calculated doses in times when they are alert and listening to you like bedtime story-time, bath, playtime where you are involved etc. Every step they help makes the mother comfortable. Dont forget the ‘Potty Training’ If its the apt age. Always helps remove huge stress. ‘Do not shy away from changing the diaper of your kid’ – A very important message to the paternal side of the rocking boat. Many dads shy away from changing diapers for kids, and hand over the kid to them mom when they smell the potty or the diaper is heavy with urine. this adds to extreme stress for the mother.

What i have listed above are just a few tips out of the many tips available. Talk to your doctors. prepare well both for the second kid and the well being of the mother. Take appropriate action per your personal situation as well as health conditions. The above tips may or may not help you all directly but even if one line from the above helps someone, a purpose is attained.

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