‘I Didn’t Want My Own Baby.’ Battling Postpartum Depression

“I used to cry everyday, without knowing why,” mothers recount their battle with postpartum depression

Updated
Mind It
3 min read

Motherhood has always been about joy, pride and infinite selfless love. But nobody talks about the other side, the part where nine months later- you're left with your hormones playing havoc, your body changed, and the sudden responsibilities thrust on you. While most symptoms like- irritability, emotional instability and fatigue in new mothers is attributed to “baby blues”, in many cases the reason is much more severe.

The baby used to cry a lot and that’s where I started questioning myself. Whether I am raising her well, family members started asking me if I am able to produce enough milk for the baby, shall we give the baby milk from a bottle? I used to cry sitting in a washroom. Just going inside the washroom used to make me feel that I am away from all the problems. It was my husband who made me realize that this is depression.
Chhavi Shah, mother
Chhavi Shah spends time with her daughter.
Chhavi Shah spends time with her daughter.
(Photo: The Quint)

To understand the symptoms and implications of postpartum depression, The Quint spoke to three new mothers who have battled the condition. According to the World Health Organisation, one in every five mothers in India battle postpartum depression. About 90% of mothers don’t receive any treatment for it.

“When someone gets pregnant, they go through a lot of turmoil. Even if they are showing symptoms after having their baby, we attribute it to the pregnancy, labour and childbirth and neglect the symptoms. The initials symptoms are that the person isn’t happy about the baby being born. The mother doesn’t feel a connect with the baby,” says Mumbai based psychiatrist, Dr Sagar Mundada. While these signs are not always apparent, certain symptoms are.

Other symptoms that are more visible include the mother feeling very irritable, and small incidents triggering big reactions, like anger outbursts. The mother perhaps doesn’t want to take care of the baby. The more extreme reaction could be the mother wanting to even consider killing the baby and herself. If not treated, some people do act upon it.
Dr Sagar Mundada, Consultant Psychiatrist, Healthspring 

For 25-year-old Vidhi, depression set in over a month after she gave birth to her daughter. The only reason she was able to detect and act on it was because her mother suffered from the same condition and was diagnosed years after it set in.

I would not eat anything. I would have sleepless nights, even if I was tired the whole day with a baby. I felt claustrophobic just staying inside one room with the baby. I just wanted to sit and cry. At one point I even thought, why did I give birth. I was like, I don’t like it. I don’t like her. My mother took me to a gynecologist who recommended I get involved in a number of activities that helped me, like pursuing online courses, long drives, etc.
Vidhi Sanghvi, mother

For mother of two, Suchita Malaviya, postpartum depression hit her after the birth of her second child.

My stitches took a lot of time to heal so I could not go out for 1 and a half months after delivery. She (the baby) used to cry all day. It was becoming difficult to look after both the children. My husband also went to a business tour and the whole family went with him. I was not able to go because of the kids. I kept thinking, why am I stuck here? I felt numb.   
Suchita Malaviya, mother
Suchita Malaviya at home with her daughters.
Suchita Malaviya at home with her daughters.
(Photo: The Quint)

“One of the reasons for postpartum depression is genetic. If someone in the family has had depression down the line, then the chances increase. Second, is lack of family support during pregnancy. Some people do not support the woman during her nine months of pregnancy. This could be a triggering factor,” says Dr Sagar Mundada, citing the most common causes of postpartum depression.

While all the three mothers we spoke to have recovered, or are well on the way of recovering from postpartum depression, they are still taking precautions to ensure it doesn’t affect them again.

I used to feed her and then give my baby to my mom. Till then I got the time to do whatever I wanted. I started learning languages, doing short courses wherein you could remain engaged.
Vidhi Sanghvi, mother

Camera: Sanjoy Deb

Camera Assistant: Gautam Sharma

Editor: Ashish Maccune

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