Expert speak: 3 key factors that can lead to postnatal depression in new mums

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Clinical psychologist Varkha Chulani on how the family’s environment affects the mother’s mental health and well-being.

An estimated 1 in 10 new mothers around the world suffer from postnatal depression, but what many of them forget is that their own family environment is behind it. Yes, that's right!

According to clinical psychologist Varkha Chulani, there are many factors that contribute to postnatal depression in a new mother.

"The family and the support system around the mother are very important in determining her state of mind. It goes without saying that a more rested mother is a less anxious mother," she says.

Dr Varkha Chulani was speaking at an event that marked the launch of Baby Dove in India, a new baby care range by Dove, a brand that millions of women around the globe trust. Here are three factors that might because of postnatal depression in new mothers, according to Dr Chulani.

1. The nutrient needs of the new mother: "Many-a-times when the new mother is feeding the baby, she, unfortunately, neglects herself and some nutrients get depleted in her body. And if the right nourishment and diet are not provided to the new mother there is a higher chance of postnatal depression," says Dr Varkha.

This is why the family and the support system around the new mother must help her keep her well-nourished, she adds. "By saying well-nourished, I don't mean well-fed, but well-nourished. It's not about having ghee and putting on weight, but seeing that there is a replenishment of the nutrients that allow the mum to feed her baby for the next eight months to a year and there is no lack of nutrients in her diet," she says.

2. Overly critical environment: The other important factor that to a large extent contributes to postnatal depression is the family's environment and support system. "In some cases, if the nutrition is in order, then we have overly critical and anxiety-provoking support structures like say there is an overly dominating mother-in-law or even mother. In such cases, the mother is constantly under the scanner and more than triggering postnatal depression, they cause postnatal anxiety," says Dr Varkha.

3. A lack of adequate rest: This is a major factor that could lead to postnatal anxiety, which if not paid attention to can even result in postnatal depression.

"Most importantly I think that a mother needs to get adequate rest and sleep. It's essential that people take turns in nurturing the baby as the mother is also in the stage of recoupment and recovery after childbirth. I think most new mums neglect their own rest and a more rested mother is a less anxious mother. We must not forget that a lot of anxiety comes out of fatigue and lack of nutrition," says Dr Varkha.

Happier mothers raise happier babies

Dr Varkha says that the baby picks up vibes from the mother and this is why happier mothers raise happier babies.

"A happy mother helps raise a more confident baby. A well-relaxed, rested mum has the confidence of raising the child in the right way as the child picks up the vibes or the non-verbals cues such as the mother is smiling, laughing, joking and simply knows that he is in a happy space," she says.

She also has a very important piece of advise for new parents.

"So, yes the mother's well-being to a large extent affects the baby's well-being as well. If you are a new parent, please take turns to take care of the baby, have someone to help you at home or take external help if needed to make sure that your baby is recuperating, " she advises.

Watch the video to know what other things contribute to postpartum depression in new mums according to Dr Varkha Chulani. You can also watch the exclusive chat on our parenting app, theAsianparent Community.

Log in now to ask any questions you have on parenting, baby care and other topics. You can also participate in theAsianparent Community’s “Babies of the week contest” and win a gift hamper from Fisher Price worth Rs 1499.

Also Read: Don't give kids medicines for every small ailment, says Dr Uday Pai

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