This is seen in the animal kingdom, especially when a mother gives birth to her cubs in captivity. But we aren't animals, we have the ability to reason and choose what is right and wrong. The fact that post-partum depression can sink into post-partum psychosis shows us that the power of emotions can lead us down a dangerous path - even to suicide.
If you or someone you know, is preparing to give birth any time soon, stop and think of these questions:
- What situation were you in when you conceived this child? Happily married? Financially stable? Emotionally prepared? If not, have you been able to find the support and encouragement you need to deal with the upcoming stress of having a baby?
- How have you been caring for your health during your pregnancy? Have you been seeing your doctor/midwife regularly? Have you been enjoying healthy foods? Have you quit unhealthy habits/addictions for the sake of your baby? Have you been trying to exercise and prepare your body for what is to come?
- How have you been preparing yourself mentally? Have you been reading books and articles about child-care? Have you planned out the baby's room or sleeping situation? Have you chosen a name, and have you started buying any toys and clothes yet? Have you decided whether you want to nurse or bottle-feed?
- What about your other family relationships? Have you been speaking regularly to your husband and children about the newcomer to your home? Have you made sure that everyone is happy and prepared for the new responsibilities? Are you helping your children to feel loved and important now that they will be a big brother/sister? Are you still working at keeping your marriage strong and loving?
- Have you made a plan to purchase all the necessary things for the baby before he or she arrives? Crib, car seat, clothes and diapers, blankets and baby monitor? If your finances don't allow you to buy all that you would like, have you found a way to at least gather together all that you need? Are you at peace with the fact that you will still be able to love and care for your baby even without all the things you would like to have?
Most of the cases of post-natal depression, are due to unresolved emotional issues that they may not even be aware of because they are buried under layers of denial or fear. A woman who has a child that she secretly resents because it was conceived at a time or with a partner that she was not happy with, can greatly affect the difficulty level of her birth process, and the way she treats that child for the rest of her life. A woman who feels guilty that she is bringing a child into the world while she is not yet financially prepared, can both love that child and mistreat it - not because she doesn't have enough money to care for it, but because her guilt doesn't allow her to have a healthy relationship with it.
A woman who conceives a child in the desperate hope that her husband will love her and commit to her more, already puts herself at risk for post-natal depression. She is putting all her hope on that child to save her marriage, an unfair burden for an innocent baby to carry.
I remember both of my midwives spending a great deal of time talking to me about my emotional state during my two pregnancies. Their experiences showed that women who were anxious and had unresolved fears generally went through greater complications during labor. Women with happy homes and peaceful hearts most often had easier labors and babies that adjusted well to life outside the womb.
Our emotions are so closely linked to our bodies. Not just by influencing choices we make, but even affecting our subconscious bodily functions. A worried heart can block contractions in labor. A resentful spirit can dry up breast milk, and a guilty conscience can look at the beautiful face of a newborn baby and want nothing to do with it.
Women who are suffering from postpartum depression need help and encouragement right away, for their sake and their babies'. For anyone who can see that she is heading in this direction, you need counsel and prayer immediately. Guilt, fear, shame, anxiety, doesn't go away just by choice. You need other's with faith in a loving and powerful God to help you heal from this. The good news is that it can be healed, and your new family can be as happier than you can imagine.
For information on where to find the help you need, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org