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Aamirah’s Post partum Depression Story




The room had been redecorated in different shades of blues and greens,

her favourite colours, so it should at least lift her mood yet it had done

anything but that.. More than 2 months after the birth of her Yaasir,

Amiraa still walked around with an air of sadness that was unshakeable.


She had tried and tried to snap out of it, like her family kept telling her but

she just could not.


To top everything, Imran, her husband had the temerity to resume work,

leaving her with all these to figure out on o her own! How was she

supposed to cope? And why can’t, Yaasir, keep quiet! His constant crying

was beginning to sound like a never ending, never-seizing siren. Truth be

told, it was as if everything going on in her life conspired to drive her nuts!


At 31 years old, she was a vibrant, budding lawyer. She had been married

for more than two years and had just welcomed their first child, a baby

boy named Yaasir.


She had a history of Mixed Depressive and Anxiety disorder, diagnosed in

her final year at the University, just as she was turning 23 years old and

had been doing well with a combination of medication and cognitive

behavioral therapy (CBT) for many years. She, however, decided in the

months leading up to getting pregnant that she wanted to be off

medication and worked with her psychiatrist to carefully get off

medication. She continued weekly therapy. She was mostly active, upbeat

and cheerful during her pregnancy.


She gave birth to a healthy 7.3-pound baby boy. Almost immediately after

the delivery, she started to feel sad, overwhelmed and consistently tearful.

She frequently felt irritable and on edge. Initially she chalked it up to all

the stress and probably, baby blues. She had read many books that

prepared expectant mothers and helped them adjust into the post-

pregnancy life, in preparation for her bundle of joy. One of such books

had explained these symptoms as ‘baby blues’ and these things she was

feeling, were expected to resolve on their own and pass quickly. However,

hers was now persisting for more than 10 weeks after baby Yaasir was

born.


She had expected to struggle in the weeks following the arrival of her

baby, but definitely not to this extent. Granted that she had limited

support—her parents were divorced and her mother was living in another

state and helping her sister’s family as a full-time babysitter. Her in-laws

were much older with numerous health complications and couldn’t help

much.


When Amiraa returned to see her psychiatrist, Dr. K. She was quite tearful

and felt she was a failure as a mom. Her baby cried incessantly and she

could barely get sleep. She was no longer lactating sufficiently despite all

the milk boosting products she consumed everyday. At the thought of

Yaasir's next feed, she was filled with so much panic, that she felt like

running away. She didn’t want to have to give him formula! what would the

world say?! Yaasir was her first born child and she couldn't even succeed

at breastfeeding him exclusively. She had been upset that she had to

"resort to getting an epidural, even having to get induced. She had been

fixated on giving birth the natural way and was lamenting on how things

didn't turn out at all, the way she wanted. All her expectations and dreams

on having her baby and nursing him and bonding with him had not

materialized.


Amiraa felt utterly incapable of soothing her baby and would

get frustrated and tearful. She was so afraid of what she had learned

about sudden infant death (SIDS), that she would barely allow herself to go

to sleep. She felt that it was a constant race against the clock—with

nursing, pumping and changing. She was always cleaning bottles and

diapers. She felt horrified with how she looked. She had expected to wear

pre-pregnancy clothes immediately after childbirth. She hadn't had a meal

in peace or gotten her hair or nails done and couldn't even think about

having sex with her husband. He tried to be supportive, but also felt

overwhelmed by it all. He felt she was inconsolable and they both felt at a

loss.


Amiraa’s visit to her psychiatrist was with her husband, to get advice

regarding her current mental state. They talked about a variety of tools,

including CBT, incorporating 15-20 minutes of daily relaxation, mindfulness

skills, hiring help, getting her mom to stay with her for a few weeks and

very importantly, correcting her misperceptions on what she considered

normal and abnormal in child birth, based on society’s dictates. Her

husband understood the urgency of the situation and offered to take time

off work and to do some of the overnight feedings. Amiraa decided to get

back on her previous antidepressant as it was extremely beneficial in the

past, and was very safe in breastfeeding. She also joined a new moms

support group and continued CBT weekly therapy. Over the next few

months, she was exercising more and getting more sleep and support and

had significant improvement in mood and energy. She received some

sleep training tips from her pediatrician as well.


Amiraa and her husband shared with Dr. K that they were feeling

significantly better. They were excited to share that they found a series of

self-help parenting books to be particularly helpful and had gotten some

helpful tips from others in the mom’s group.


Wow, it really does take a village to raise a child, doesn't it; Amiraa

commented to her psychiatrist. They spoke about how in previous

generations new couples could rely on extended family support and how

that support often doesn’t exist now. Also, inaccurate beliefs, such as

babies are easy and infancy should be a happy time for parents, add to

stress, conflict and guilt when these expectations are unmet. Being able to

normalize the stress of adjusting to parenthood was extremely helpful for

Amiraa and her Imran.

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