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“I Could Not Escape Postpartum Depression Despite Focusing On The Joys That My Child Brought”

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Suhra delivered her child in Kerala while her husband was in Delhi. In India, most women go to their maternal house during the last days of pregnancy. This ensures proper rest. Mother and other ladies help a pregnant woman manage the changes in their body and child-rearing after delivery.

He was a major missing when she delivered. “I pushed and pushed. My perineum tore, I extra pushed, and I delivered my placenta. The doctor told me that they need to stitch it. It was very painful, but I was focused on the joys this child brings along,” she says.

The nurses stuffed two pads and long metes of cotton into the vagina to dip blood. It was Lochia. Lochia is the vaginal discharge that includes parts of the placenta, undeveloped parts of the baby and blood that is nurtured by the child inside the womb. The first day was all about bed rest.

Suhra’s husband reached the next day. She could not shut up but narrate minute details of her daring act. She got up for the first time to pee, and it was too uncomfortable. She walked with her legs wide apart. “The task of motherhood along the discomfort in the down was affecting my well-being,” she said. 

Sitting seemed a task to her. The baby had to be fed every 2 hours for which she had to sit up straight. The cotton slabs and pads were just too uncomfortable. She howled in pain each time she had to feed the baby. Her baby went on crying, and there was a mandate upon her to attend to her child. 

Her mother and mother-in-law were not able to understand her discomfort. However, her husband was very supportive. “My husband’s awareness from the pregnancy app columns for dads really did help me. He was there physically and mentally with me,” she said.

On her way back home, her husband did not accompany her. He was not supposed to stay. In most Indian households, a couple is not allowed to stay together. This is to abstain them from having sex. 

On interviewing nurses and mothers on this, one of them told me, “Such practices have nothing to do with culture or tradition. It has much to do with sensibility. At a younger age, the hormones are high, so parents have to separate the couple.” I certainly can’t entirely agree with the same. I believe that young parents need to be talked about the changes in a woman’s body post-pregnancy.

They must be made aware that sex or another pregnancy is very harmful to the mother. Separating them is no solution. At no cost should a mother be abstained from the moral support of her husband. He must take care of the woman. He should feed her while she is feeding the baby, feel her pain, and be there to attend to her needs.

Other mothers and nurses told me that there is no such hard and fast rule to separate young parents. However, they should abstain from having sex for at least 3 months. As per the guidelines of the government, a minimum of 3 years gap should exist between pregnancy.

mother baby india
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional and behavioural changes that happen in some women after giving birth.

Suhra was working on her paper which she had already committed before her delivery. It took her 7 days to pass stool because of constipation and pain. She was finding it very difficult to manage motherhood, academic commitments and pain. 

The hormones were bidding adieu. I was coming to the unexpected. I felt like crying. I thought it was okay,” she said. Her husband would visit her once a week. The distance between them affected her very much. She desperately wanted her husband’s warmth.

Though she did not want to accept it, it was postpartum depression. 

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional and behavioural changes that happen in some women after giving birth. It typically starts from the fourth week of delivery. There are three broad terms used to describe the mood change in a woman postpartum:

  1. Baby blues: It occurs right after childbirth. This includes mood swings. It typically lasts for 2–3 hours to 1–2 weeks.
  2. Postpartum depression: It occurs after a few days or months of childbirth. The fluctuating mood will be similar to baby blues. This hampers one from doing everyday tasks. 
  3. Postpartum psychosis: It is a severe mental disorder. Usually occurs within the first 3 months of delivery. The woman can keep hallucinating, harming oneself or people around and become restless.

Suhra, pursuing her PhD in psychology, was not ignorant. She ignored the system of keeping away the couple. Held her husband’s hand and dragged him to the room. Ignored the protests to this and cried for hours. She told her husband that she needs help.

While her husband headed back to Delhi, she started seeing a psychiatrist. She is out of the postpartum periods. She said, “I am a good mother; I am a happy mother. I write letters to my daughter. I play with her. I want to tell all the males — you are much needed for your wives post-delivery. Do not let the custom decide for you.”

The author is a part of the current batch of the #PeriodParGyan Writer’s Training Program.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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