Faced with the birth of a baby, many mothers feel happy, grateful and empowered to bring their children into the world.
however, for many women the puerperium can be a difficult experience, full of fear, guilt, negative feelings affecting their emotional and social relationships, breastfeeding and even bonding with their baby. This is what we call postpartum depression (PPD).
In this article we will see what happens when with the birth of a baby does not arrive the anticipated and idealized illusion of being a mother, But sensations related to discomfort.
The key moments of birth
Pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium are moments of particular vulnerability for women, When the person is more sensitive and there may be personal or contextual factors that can affect the bond that is created between mother and baby. The start of the bond with our baby can be changed at different times.
1. During pregnancy
The bond with the baby begins in the womb, And the fetus perceives all the emotions felt by its mother. If the mother’s life story has been complex, the hormonal process that develops during pregnancy leads to a period of psychic transparency (Bydlowski, 2007), where the woman feels the need to review and repair her story, in particular, bonding with her mother, so that she can begin to bond emotionally with her baby.
If there are any unresolved conflicts or ruptures of affection in the mother’s storyIt is more likely that the emotional bond can be negatively affected. That is why pregnancy is a good time to be able to work and repair the history of our disease.
2. Maternity and paternity
This phase begins to develop from the moment you dream of the arrival of the son or daughter, and until you arrive, a lot can happen.
A mother is not born out of loneliness and isolation; it is the result of a family, binding, social, economic, technological context. Biology also plays a leading role, and for successful motherhood, support is needed to create the conditions for a healthy pregnancy. In this process not only how much the mother and her family, but the whole society.
Whether there is a natural or highly medicalized and operated birth, whether there are medical complications or the woman did not feel safe in this situation, this can lead to the emotional bond with our baby not being as expected.
4. The postpartum
Physical and emotional separations between mother and baby, or medical interventions on the baby or mother, among other issues, can also delay the establishment of a strong emotional bond.
5. The puerperium
Lack of support and care from the couple and the environment, problems or illnesses in the recovery of the mother, or stress, they create difficulties of mother-baby connection.
When the illusion of being a mother does not come
If the pregnancy went well and the delivery took place with respect for mother and child, the woman felt empowered; hormones and the emotional changes they make give her internal and external strength alongside a connection, not only with the baby, but also with herself. The mammalian biological instinct guides maternal behavior and predisposes the mother to take certain actions linked to a good development of the motherhood.
However, if she has not been able to take ownership of her part, her body, the process, a feeling of bewilderment and helplessness usually sets in, leading her to lose self-confidence. It was as if they had stolen something from her that she was not aware of in the way she lived her mother.
There are different variables that can prevent mothers from feeling that torrent of love that they “should” be feeling., And after that comes the feeling of guilt and discomfort towards oneself.
It is very common to live feelings of sadness, irritability, wanting to cry after childbirth, Due to fatigue and hormonal changes. This period is called “Baby Blues” and 80% of women suffer from it. With the care of those around the mother and baby, the necessary rest, and lots of emotional support, these symptoms go away within a few days.
However, if this does not happen and the discomfort persists, it can affect the daily life of mother and baby, we may be talking about postpartum depression. For these cases from Vitalitza we recommend professional assistance.
PTSD associated with pregnancy or childbirth
It is also important to consult a professional if, during childbirth or the postpartum process, the mother has the experience that at some point her life or that of her baby has been in serious danger; it can lead to intense fear or despair, developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It can occur in 2 to 6% of women who give birth, and 30% usually cause some symptoms of this disorder, which persist for a long time, or even years, if left untreated.
Among the main triggers of this disorder are perceived neglect or professional misconduct during or after childbirth or high obstetric interventionism (Use of instruments during childbirth, medicalization, urgent cesarean section, etc.) where the woman feels loss of control or excessive pain for a prolonged period.
Symptoms that accompany a traumatic birth they are generally:
- Constantly relive childbirth or the most stressful situations in the process.
- Feeling out of touch or removed from reality and your baby.
- Irritability and hyperexcitability with their environment and health professionals.
- Affect the bond with your baby.
- Rejection of sexuality and desire to be a mother again.
What to do?
In the event of PTSD, it is recommended encourage women to express their feelings in support groups or with professionals. EMDR therapy, along with regulatory and relaxation strategies such as Neurofeedback, are effective treatments for PTSD after a complicated birth.
Bringing a baby into the world is one of the vital events with the greatest emotional and physical impact on a woman, which is why it is so important to support her and take care of herself and the baby. This help must combine the human factor provided by relatives and professional assistance from psychotherapy experts.
Authors: Anabel De la Cruz and Cristina Cortés, psychologists at Vitalitza Psicologia de la Salut.
- Cortés, C. (2017) Look at me, sit down. Strategies for repairing the condition in children using EMDR. Desclée de Brouwer.
- Bydlowski. (2007) The Debt of Life. Psychoanalytic itinerary of motherhood. New library.
- Olza, I. (2017) Parir. The power of childbirth. SA Ediciones B.