The cry of a newborn baby brings immense joy. For mothers, it is a dream come true and the beginning of motherhood.

Amidst the joy and excitement, there can be unexpected challenges. For some mothers, the days after delivery bring not only physical changes but also emotional struggles that can be difficult to navigate.

Eno Quagraine is a mother of three. In 2017, she welcomed her first child. Little did she know that the arrival of her bundle of joy would also sink her into the depths of what health professionals call postpartum depression.

The happiness of having a baby turns out to be a mirage for some mothers who drown in depression. Somehow, these mothers begin to feel a certain weird sense of inadequacy, and a feeling that they are failing as mothers.

In an interview with Joy News on May 16, she explained that she opted for a vaginal delivery but also had to undergo an episiotomy after being in labour for 48 hours.

“I had heard about pregnancy and motherhood, you read about some of the things. I do not think anything adequately prepares you for what the journey will be like afterwards. I went in to have a vaginal delivery but I also suffered an episiotomy because I had been in labour for 48 hours. I was too tired to push properly so they decided to create an incision and that experience was very traumatic for me.

“That amount of pain sent me over the edge. That includes the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed immediately. My baby at the time wasn’t latching properly, I didn’t have access to any lactation consultant or anybody to guide me as to what to do. It was just the pieces of advice and hearsay from different people. I had the pain from the latch and the emotional pain for not being able to breastfeed my baby immediately, then also the fact that I had the stitch” she added.

Eno stressed that people usually dismiss women when they see them experiencing something like this. She recounted how her mother encouraged her, but others were yelling at her, which exacerbated her depression.

“I started to sink into depression and I didn’t notice that was happening, all I knew was that I wasn't happy. I also knew I wasn't bonding with my baby properly, I was never one of those mothers who once I popped the baby, smiled to my baby’s face, held him, and rocked him. I was just happy to be done with that experience. The nurses came for him and I was so relieved. So I never really bonded with him the first week.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Promise Emmanuel Sefogah, Obstetrician Gynecologist & Medical Director of Shape Healthcare, explains that postpartum depression is a reality for many women, affecting roughly four in every ten mothers.

Eno explained “I was in very dark thoughts like you don't like your baby, you don't even want to be a mother. Like, it just is this thing for me. The thing that is so hyped this wasn't living up to my expectations. I felt alone because I was one of the first to have a baby in my friends’ group and none of them even understood what I was going through because I didn’t know if they’d get it. A lot of crying because I feel I’m alone, even with my husband I just felt like he will not even understand it, those questions were even pissing me off,” she added.

Dr Promise Sefogah stated that postpartum illness can have serious implications for both the mother and the infant. Families and healthcare providers must be vigilant and provide the needed care.

“For Eno, having her mother experience similar symptoms helped provide the needed support through this downtime.”

Eno mentioned that her mother noticed the signs and suggested she might be experiencing postpartum depression.

However, Dr Alberta Nsiah-Asamoah also emphasised that addressing postpartum depression requires a mix of self-care strategies, seeking professional help, establishing a support network, and making lifestyle adjustments.

She emphasised that mothers seeking help should view it as a sign of strength, not weakness. Postpartum depression is treatable, and with the right support and resources, affected mothers can experience a fulfilling journey through motherhood. It's a common yet frequently overlooked condition among new mothers.

“Just like any mental illness, stigma surrounding postpartum depression is prevalent in Ghanaian society making it difficult for mothers to openly discuss their feelings or seek professional help.

“The first thing is identifying that this person has a problem. You bring a person to see a psychiatrist. We assess the person and then we intervene so that we shorten the illness. The aim is to shorten it as much as possible. In extreme cases, some have said that it can lead to self-harm on the mother's side and even death of the baby. So you can imagine that potentially it is quite dangerous.”

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.