The need for more awareness surrounding postnatal health

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When it comes to understanding and taking care of our health, there are some aspects of that duty of self-care that are relatively (if not entirely) easy to take accountability for, to carry out. Undergoing STD testing when encountering a new sexual partner, for example, is quite simple. The same could be said for initiating an active lifestyle, and then maintaining it. The list of examples goes on and on. However, one facet of health that is too often overlooked when it comes to honest and open discussion and even general awareness, is post-natal health. It is common knowledge that having a baby is one of the most life-changing events that a woman can possibly go through. But what many people do not realise is that it can be life-changing in unfortunate ways as well as positive. Postnatal health can be critical after a woman experiences the birth of their child – and even in the lead-up to that child’s arrival as well. A unique face of mental health, postnatal health is something that is challenging to understand unless one has experienced it for themselves. And even then, every instance is different. There is a need for more adequate understanding – and it is a need that is long overdue.

Post-natal depression is a serious medical condition that affects some mothers after the birth of their children. Unlike other serious medical conditions, medical professionals are not entirely sure what causes postnatal depression. However, in saying this, they currently believe that it is most likely caused by a combination of waves of hormones and the shock to the system that sometimes comes with the action of creating and then bringing a new life into the world. The nature of post-natal is that it often (if not always) tends to approach the individual boldly, relentlessly. And yet, surprisingly, it can be difficult for others to notice the condition in their loved one – to begin with. Over time, post-natal depression can worsen substantially if not adequately treated, and it can cause significant harm – even fatality, manifested in cries for help and seemingly drastic measures to achieve peace of mind once again. In this sense, post-natal is every bit the mental health condition.

The weight of expectation and responsibility on new mothers is astounding, like nothing else in all the world. In some circumstances, this weight proves to be too heavy to handle, and this is when mothers experience postnatal depression – even fathers, too. Recently, it has even been discovered that fathers could very well experience post-natal depression as well as mothers. This is a relatively new finding, but it is one that comes with a seemingly constantly growing body of research and pile of case studies to back it up. The reality is that having a child is a life-changing event for both parents. Just because a father does not carry his child inside his own body, does not mean that they do not experience similar (if not the same) emotions and responses to the extraordinary events playing out in their lives. Post-natal is not only a serious health condition, but a shockingly common on. In the USA alone, one in five women experience post-natal depression, and it is thought that one in seven men experience it too. A global epidemic, this is a health condition that demands immediate attention, change.

The recovery and rehabilitation process following post-natal depression diagnosis can be – and unfortunately often is – challenging and long. As well as the initial feelings of struggle and discomfort (to put it mildly), there is an overwhelming sense of guilt. Parents have what so many would give anything to have…children of their own. Post-natal depression often comes with a heightened sense of guilt at having less-than-desirable emotions about being a parent. This is natural, and it is important to know that there are professional support systems in place to help navigate tumultuous waters when this does become a problem. At the core of it all, post-natal depression is a condition that, if left unchecked, can cause especially devastating circumstances to occur. It is unfortunately a reality for many who have suffered with post-natal depression themselves that they bear the mental and even physical scars of their condition. Some people even do not survive it, in extreme cases. We must do more to spread awareness and understanding.

Postnatal health is one of the most overlooked faces of health there is. When a woman welcomes their child into the world, there is a belief that the person should feel nothing but excitement and love. And most of the time this is exactly the case. But even so, some women experience all the positive emotions while also battling with the negative emotions that sometimes prove to be overwhelming. It is not that they do not love their child. They do (in most cases). But sometimes that love can be overshadowed by an incredibly dark cloud of change that is difficult to swallow, to deal with. The weight of expectation and responsibility that bears down on mothers – and even fathers too – can sometimes manifest in post-natal depression. This is a condition that can prove to be incredibly self-destructive, and thus it is important to raise awareness and spread information about this vicious condition. And most importantly, it is crucial to understand that post-natal depression is not the mark of a weak or bad person, but a sign of a normal person struggling under life-changing circumstances.

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