-Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Senior physiatrist and founder at Manasthali
Celebrated around the world as a day to honor mothers, and motherly bonds within the family, International Mother’s Day is an important occasion that falls on the second Sunday of May every year. As such, it does not have a fixed date, and this year, it will be celebrated on May 9.
Motherhood is supposed to be an experience worth cherishing, but the process of becoming a mother is associated with many physical and psychological changes which make the initial part of the journey quite tumultuous. Due to the socio-cultural aspects of pregnancy, many women are not able to talk about their doubts and dilemmas, especially the working woman who needs help and cooperation during pregnancy and postpartum period but is often undermined for exactly the same reason.
The challenges associated with hormonal changes, physiological effects of pregnancy on digestion ( nausea, heartburn, bloating, indigestion), musculoskeletal system ( change in body’s center of gravity due to carrying a growing foetus, backache, swelling in legs), respiratory system ( shallow breathing), skin changes, body image issues, etc all have a significant psychological effect before the blessing of bringing a new life into the world can be enjoyed.
Postpartum blues happen in over 85 per cent of women following the first week of delivery. A substantial number progressed to postpartum depression or anxiety disorders. Women with past history, family history of mood disorders and OCD, and with high psychosocial stressors are more vulnerable to develop these disorders. The impact of psychological distress of the mother on the baby is well established with issues in mother-child bonding, baby’s growth, and physiological adaptation to stress.
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Therefore it’s important to focus on the mother’s health to promote the health of the generation she is a vehicle for. The components of health care of the mother should not only be restricted to physical checkups and ultrasound but proper screening for social and patchy vulnerability factors should be undertaken.
Patent and family guidance and support system need to be established in every obstetric setup to address the health of the mother and thus the baby in a holistic manner. Psychological support, work and employment-related support, and household issues need to be taken into account.
During the rearing period, parents would often need guidance from their doctors for managing routine issues as well as a child’s association and reaction to his/her immediate environment would need management for healthy personality development.