Note: The article below belongs to a collection of questions that I received and answered online. This is not intended to, nor should it not be construed as counseling. If you believe that you are suffering from postpartum depression, please reach out to and consult with your physician for personalized medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions. 

Question:

Salams

I think I have postnatal depression as iv just had a baby 2wks ago and I’m extremely emotional, overwhelmed, teary and so lonely. My husband does not understand and is getting cross that im not staying on top of my house chores and giving my other 2 children enough attention. He thinks I’m being lazy and when I try to explain I can’t control my feelings and feel an emotional wreck he blames me for being too emotional and says this is just a ‘modern-day’ mother excuse to be lazy. I feel awful and his insensitive words are depressing me even more to the extent I’m questioning if it’s just me who needs to get a grip or this is actually a problem. I don’t have anyone else to turn to except my husband and feel so let down. Please help and advise me how I can get out of this dark pit and become mentally healthy and normal again. I have no1 to talk to and I don’t wish to talk to my husband as I end up feeling worse due to his insensitive response. I cry all day and at night and feel guilty because I feel guilty and worry that maybe I’m being ungrateful for my blessings and these feelings are from shaitan. Is feeling so negative and down a sign of ungratefulness? Weak iman? Right now I feel like a failure. .a bad mother. .a bad wife and a bad Muslim for being ungrateful and lazy. Please help me clarify my thinking. I’m so confused.

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Answer:

Walaikum asalaam wa Rahmatullah,

M ay Allah (swt) grant you strength and help you through this difficult time. Ameen. You are so brave to reach out regarding this issue. So many mothers experience this but hesitate to seek help due to feelings of shame and guilt. You have nothing to feel guilty about and we are privileged to be able to offer a little bit of support at this difficult time.

Having a baby is life-changing- whether it is your first child or your tenth- and every birth is a different experience. It can be incredibly confusing to feel a sense that you “should be grateful” while still feeling miserable and being unable to push past these emotions. After taking the baby home, women often wonder, “How can I possibly take care of this tiny human being who is dependent on me for everything on top of all my other tasks? Plus, I hardly feel able to take care of myself right now!” It’s incredibly overwhelming.

We often hear the birth of a child described in picturesque terms. New mothers expect to feel “complete” and to feel as though “everything is suddenly right in the world” once their new baby is placed in their arms. This concept is very misleading and it causes mothers who experience normal anxiety and stress to feel inadequate and as though they are ungrateful for their children.

As hormones shift drastically after delivery, it’s absolutely normal to feel what is commonly known as the “baby blues” in the weeks following birth. Nearly 80% of women experience this within the first two weeks after giving birth. You may experience mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, crying, decreased concentration and trouble sleeping. If after two weeks you are continuing to struggle and this interferes with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. One in eight women suffers from this. Some symptoms of postpartum depression include (Via Mayo Clinic):

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

There are a lot of reasons that this happens and none of these reasons include being ungrateful to Allah (swt) for blessing you with a child or suffering from weak imaan. Depression, postpartum depression and baby blues are all issues that are impacted by a variety of factors and there is no reason to feel guilty for these emotions since they are beyond your control. There are many examples of very righteous people in the history of our faith, including Prophets, who experienced feelings of sadness. Prophet Yaqub grieved for his son until his, “eyes became white with sorrow, and he fell into silent melancholy.” {Qur’aan 12:84} After the death of his child, Ibrahim, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) held his son in his arms and said “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.” This shows that feeling sadness does not mean that you are not strong in your faith in Allah (swt) since the most righteous who ever walked this earth also experienced this emotion.

After childbirth, your body endures a drastic drop in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. When we go through hormonal changes, our emotions also change and this may contribute to postpartum depression. You are also very likely sleep deprived as you have a newborn who wakes up every couple of hours. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious about balancing all of these new tasks along with caring for your other children, and feeling a lack of control over your emotions can also contribute to postpartum depression.

I know that it must be so hard to feel unsupported by your husband, particularly because you feel as though there is no one else to turn to right now. Now, when you need support more than ever, it can make you feel so lonely not to get it from the man you love so much. Oftentimes, people struggle to understand what is going on for someone else internally. Depression is not as visible as a cut, burn or broken leg and, therefore, can be difficult for some to grasp. However, after birth you have not only experienced an intense physical change but also an emotional and mental one. Therefore, you need as much support as possible. Show your husband some articles (from a credible source) regarding the causes of postpartum depression. Simply because this is “invisible” to others does not mean it doesn’t exist. It can be difficult for your husband to see you suffering like this and he may not know how to react. Perhaps denial that anything is wrong is the way he is currently coping with this change. Although he is currently struggling to be supportive, this does not mean he does not love you or care for you. Let him know that you understand that it is difficult for him to see you feeling emotional and give him concrete suggestions regarding ways that he can be supportive (i.e. make du’aa for you, validate your emotions, give you a hug, do an activity with the kids while you nap, etc.).

Also, please make sure that you speak with your doctor about your symptoms. If you are still feeling this way, it is very likely you have postpartum depression, which can be treated. Medication as well as therapy may be prescribed. It can make a world of difference to get treatment early to prevent the depression from deepening insha’Allah. Therapy as a component in treatment can be very helpful to allow you the opportunity to talk about your emotions without feeling judged. This is particularly important in your situation since you mentioned that you do not have anyone to confide in. Postpartum Support International (http://www.postpartum.net/) is also a great resource through which coordinators provide support, encouragement, and information about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and can help you find resources in your community. If you experience the urge to hurt yourself or your baby (this can be a symptom of postpartum depression), make sure to place the baby in a safe spot and seek help immediately. You can call your local emergency services to ensure immediate assistance.

Remember that Allah (swt) chose you to be the mother of your children and there’s no one better for that role than you despite how you feel right now. Do not underestimate the power of du’aa. When you feel as though there is no one to turn to, turn to Him and pour out your sorrows. Allah (swt) created human beings with difficult emotions and, although this is a very hard test, He (swt) knows how strong you are and will never give you more than you can handle. Allah (swt) acknowledges the hardship mothers endure when He says, “And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (Surah al-Ahqaf: 15)

May Allah (swt) grant you a full recovery from this struggle and reward you tremendously for all that you do for your family. Ameen.

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