Understanding Postpartum Depression: The Impact on Motherhood

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Postpartum depression (PPD) has become a topic of increased awareness and discussion in recent years. It is a condition that affects familie...

Rachael Wiley

Rachael Wiley

18 August 2023 8:14 am

Understanding Postpartum Depression: The Impact on Motherhood

Postpartum Depression and Societal Attitudes Towards Motherhood

Postpartum depression (PPD) has become a topic of increased awareness and discussion in recent years. It is a condition that affects families in the United States, but its rising rates are not occurring in isolation. The cultural devaluation of motherhood is seen as a contributing factor to the escalating cases of PPD. This suggests that understanding and addressing societal attitudes towards motherhood is important in tackling the issue of postpartum depression.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a more severe and longer-lasting mental health condition that affects some women after giving birth. While "baby blues" are common and usually fade within the first two weeks postpartum, postpartum depression can persist for a longer period. Approximately 10% of women experience postpartum depression, according to postpartumdepression.org. A report from the CDC also found that 13.2% of respondents reported symptoms of postpartum depression.

Causes and Risk Factors

Postpartum depression, a disorder that affects some women after giving birth, has an unknown cause but can be influenced by lifestyle choices and social factors. The National Library of Medicine states that women who experience anxiety and depression during pregnancy are more likely to develop postpartum depression. Risk factors for the disorder include a history of depression and anxiety, a negative attitude towards the baby, a difficult pregnancy, and a lack of social support.

Symptoms and Severity

According to WebMD, postpartum depression can manifest in various ways. One of the initial signs is feeling unhappy about being a parent. Other symptoms include changes in sleep patterns, worries about being a good mother, difficulty making decisions, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. It is important to note that if a mother experiences thoughts of harming herself or her baby, these are severe symptoms that indicate worsened postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis and should be addressed immediately.

The Impact of External Factors

Postpartum depression is a form of depression that some women experience after giving birth. It shares similarities with other types of depression, but certain conditions can make it more likely to occur. Women who are more vulnerable may develop symptoms of depression due to major hormonal changes after delivery. However, the public discussion around postpartum depression often focuses on the lack of access to medical care for postpartum women, rather than considering external factors that contribute to mental health struggles.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Postpartum Depression

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in anxiety and depression worldwide, according to a report by the World Health Organization. The isolation and stress caused by the pandemic have contributed to a 25% rise in these mental health conditions. However, the impact of external factors on the mental health of postpartum women is often overlooked.

The Prevalence of Postpartum Depression

Instances of postpartum depression (PPD) have been on the rise, according to research. A report by Blue Cross Blue Shield revealed that diagnoses of PPD increased by almost 30% between 2014 and 2018. Although there was a slight decrease in 2016, the numbers jumped again. The COVID-19 pandemic also saw an increase in cases of PPD. This condition is not limited to any specific region, as it occurs worldwide. In Western developed nations, the prevalence of PPD ranges from 7% to 40%, while Asian countries have a prevalence of 3.5% to 63.3%. Globally, the prevalence of PPD is estimated to be between 10% and 15%.

The Need for Continued Research and Support

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first pill to treat postpartum depression, addressing the growing concern over this condition. However, there is a call for continued research on postpartum depression, as it should not be seen as a standalone mental health issue. Instead, it should be viewed in connection with other forms of depression that may not be linked to societal changes.

The Cultural Attitude Towards Motherhood

The recent cultural attitude towards motherhood has devalued its importance and benefits to society, causing many women to feel desperate and overwhelmed when faced with the life-altering experience of becoming a mother. This shift in perception has made women believe that the challenges and stresses of motherhood are abnormal, leading some to consider not having children at all.

The Impact of Media and Online Resources

According to a 2014 Washington Post article, many parents in Australia had "unrealistic" expectations about infants in early parenthood. The article also highlighted how Americans are having fewer babies, resulting in fewer interactions with children and leaving new parents uneducated about childcare. The Post argued that the media portrays an unrealistic and inaccurate picture of early motherhood, causing strain on new parents. However, the article suggests that new mothers in today's society may have a different perspective.

The article discusses how young women are no longer being prepared for the role of raising a family and instead rely on the internet for guidance. It highlights the abundance of online resources available, such as websites, blogs, courses, and social media accounts, that offer tips and routines for new moms. This shift has replaced the traditional practice of receiving one-on-one advice from older relatives. The article also mentions that when mothers fail to adhere to strict schedules, they may experience feelings of inadequacy.

The Devaluation of Motherhood and Abortion

The article discusses the impact of legal abortion on the devaluation of motherhood in the United States over the past fifty years. It argues that the celebration of abortion in popular culture has portrayed pregnancy, birth, and motherhood as obstacles to achieving other goals. The article suggests that women are often told they cannot pursue their dreams if they have children at an inconvenient time, leading to a perception that they must choose between motherhood and their other aspirations. This one-for-one exchange mentality has created a belief that scheduling motherhood will be easy, but the reality is often different. As a result, when women do become mothers, they may experience shock and overwhelm, affecting their mental and physical well-being.

Redefining Motherhood and Providing Support

The article highlights a shift in societal perception of motherhood, stating that it is no longer seen as a standalone achievement. Instead, young women are encouraged to prioritize other pursuits and view motherhood as a distraction. The author argues that while it is important to support women in achieving their goals outside of being a mother, this should not undermine the significance of motherhood. The article emphasizes the need for balance and support to prevent new moms from feeling isolated.

Recognizing Postpartum Depression and Providing Value

The article discusses the importance of recognizing postpartum depression as a significant mental health disorder and the need for increased support for struggling families. It suggests that changing societal attitudes towards mothers and viewing their role in raising children as a positive contribution to communities could help reduce the prevalence of postpartum depression. The article emphasizes the importance of providing new mothers with a sense of accomplishment and value in their role, which would ultimately benefit both individuals and society as a whole.

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