Depression in new moms

11 Jul 2019

Motherhood is hard, no matter how prepared you think you are. With the lack of sleep and time to yourself – not to mention your hormones being out of whack – you’re bound to get a bit moody and frustrated.

Most women feel a little ‘off’ in their first three to 10 days after giving birth; studies show that up to 80% of new moms get a case of the baby blues. However, if these symptoms don’t go away after three to four weeks, you could be suffering from something more serious: postnatal depression.

While postnatal depression and the baby blues often share similar symptoms such as irritability, sadness, and insomnia, postnatal depression often leads to more serious symptoms like severe anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anger and/or resentment towards your new baby. So, postnatal depression is not something to be ignored.

Because it follows the birth of a child, many moms associate their depression, frustration and anger with their new baby, and those emotions often get directed towards the baby.

Rufaro Chimbadzwa, an honours social work student from the University Johannesburg, led a support session at the Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre, and she advised the new moms who attended to try their best not to take their anger and irritability out on their baby, as this could lead to attachment and behavioural issues in the long term. 

“Your baby doesn’t cry to annoy you; they just don’t have any other way to communicate their needs,” Chimbadzwa.

Murray Booth, a marketing executive at Cuddlers, emphasised the importance of support during times like these. 

“Postnatal depression often leaves mothers feeling alone in their struggle, but with this initiative, they can see they are not alone, and that they have plenty of reassurance from mothers who have been in the same situation,” said Booth.

Fhumulani Makhera, the social auxiliary  worker at Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre, has worked with many new moms over the years, and he has seen just how postnatal depression takes its toll on both mother and baby. 

“This is one of the very reasons we decided to start this support group for mothers. It is a safe place where the ladies can seek professional help, talk about what they are going through, and find out how other mothers have coped,” said Makhera.

Chimbadzwa stressed that new mothers who are suffering from postnatal depression need to know that it’s not their fault that they feel the way they do. She added that having a baby is a huge responsibility, and it brings about many changes to a mother’s life, but new moms also need to know that help is available.

Support sessions are sponsored by Cuddlers, Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre, and the Fourways Review, under the banner of Caxton Cares. The sessions are bi-monthly, with the next session taking place on 18 July at 10:30am at the Witkoppen Health and Welfare Centre, 105 William Nicol Drive.
Details: WhatsApp Fhumulani Makhera 065 936 0559.