KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 – Subang Jaya assemblywoman Michelle Ng took to Twitter yesterday to share her experience with postpartum blues.
“Mental health is an issue close to my heart,” Ng said. In educating herself on mental health, she has learned about baby blues and postpartum depression.
“So before going for my C-sec, I had a chat with my husband and made ourselves aware that I may have baby blues in my first week post delivery and that if it prolonged, we had to seek professional help.”
Ng told Ova that there is a difference between postpartum blues (also known as baby blues) and postpartum depression.
“Baby blues are short-term dips in mood caused by all of the changes that come with a new baby. Usually lasts one to two weeks,” she said.
“Postpartum depression is when those feelings of sadness last longer than that.”
She suffered from the less severe of the two conditions, but it was a harrowing experience nonetheless.
“And boy, ‘difficult’ doesn’t come close to what we went through. I was anxious and weepy – words that would not usually be used to describe me,” said Ng on Twitter.
“I recall crying over almost everything – being unable to put together my pumps, when baby does not feed well, and even loud footsteps.”
She said what helped her cope was her awareness of the condition, voicing her thoughts, and seeking help.
“Make sure that you and your support system know that baby blues happen. Learn the signs and read up about how to cope when faced with it,” she told Ova.
Voicing her thoughts was a coping mechanism, Ng said on Twitter. “I was candid with how I felt about everything. Yes, even the loud footsteps.
“Awareness meant that my support system knew not to belittle my feelings, however small.”
Ng told Ova she voiced her need for help to her two caregivers at that point, which were her husband and mother.
In terms of seeking help, Ng knew that coping with postpartum blues would have a lot to do with managing postpartum healing and providing care to the baby.
“I sought a lot of help with the latter — baby’s diaper changing, bathing, soothing, medical appointments, and post-midnight feeds.”
Ng also had difficulty breastfeeding due to late supply and latching issues. To overcome these, she sought the help of a lactation consultant.
“My OBGYN also checked on me and offered advice about how to rest (sleep when baby sleeps), breast milk pumping management and feeding baby in general,” she told Ova.
When asked what advice she had for expectant mothers to prepare for the possibility of experiencing the baby blues, Ng said they should read up and speak to their OBGYN about it during the prenatal stage.
“Do not be too hard on yourself in the first two weeks post delivery,” she added.
“The guilt of not being 100 per cent there for the baby at that stage is normal, but remember that you need to heal well so that you can provide well.
“Most importantly, put your village to work while you rest. Also, seek professional help when needed.”
Having gone through natal care in the public and private health care systems, Ng said she feels that a better job could be done in equipping mothers with postnatal information at the prenatal stage.
“Mental health being one of them. Just teaching us about what it is and what to do would help so much,” Ng said on Twitter, where she also emphasised that a person is not weak if they struggle with mental health.
“You did not ask for it. It is an illness, and it is okay to seek help.”
She said that much work needs to be done to destigmatise mental health issues, and that both the government and society need to do much more.