Motherhood should be the most rewarding event in a woman’s life. The media is full of examples of babies gurgling happily and mothers and fathers holding their child with an angelic smile on their faces.I knew, something was wrong with me. After the birth of my first child, I missed this feeling of endless love. This little bundle of joy that entered my body just a couple of days ago, would not let me sleep, and hurt me when it was drinking. My whole body was sore, the thought of my baby wanting to nurse every hour made me cry out of desperation. This state did not go away, not in the first week and not in the second week. I couldn’t get out of bed, had extreme difficulties sleeping at night and was so exhausted and tired, I felt like a zombie.
When I got out of the house, it was just to see the pediatrician for scheduled health checkups to make sure my baby is on par with growth and weight guidelines. I took all my courage and told the pediatrician about my exhaustion and insomnia. “That is just the baby blues, don’t worry it will pass soon”. After another week of barely sleeping and breastfeeding pains, I confessed to my mother in law. All she said is “you are a mother now, and this is part of being one, this is the baby blues and most mothers go through it”. After six weeks I went to my doctor and you can guess, what he said. “It’s just the baby blues”
Today I know I had a full-blown postpartum depression. I exhibited all the symptoms, like feeling sad and hopeless, crying more than usual, unable to sleep, doubting my ability to be a good mother and care for my baby and extreme fatigue (National Institute of Mental Health).
In our applied social psychology class, we learned about incorrect diagnostic decision making and their outcomes. False-negative judgement, is exactly what happened to me. My doctor did not recognize, that I had a post-partum depression and I wasn’t treated for it (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2012, p. 103).
If postpartum depression is not recognized and treated, it can have severe consequences for the mother and her infant. Beside neglect and a lack of bonding between mother and child (National Institute of Mental Health), it can have even devastating ramifications. Some of you might remember the case of Lisette Bamenga. She was a school teacher who poisoned and drowned her two children for no obvious reasons. The public could not understand how a mother could ever do something like this. Bamenga was diagnosed with postpartum depression (Kochman, 2016).
False negative judgments should not be taken lightly. Without the proper treatment, the condition of the disorder will not improve and it might even become much worse, as the example of Lisette Bamenga showed. Professionals that work with new mothers should be educated to use guidelines to distinguish postpartum depression from the baby blues. Besides birth classes, where women learn how to breathe during delivery, we should also have classes teaching mothers how the baby blues distinguishes itself from a postpartum depression. If false negative judgements cannot be prevented, then we have to educate the patient to make the health professional aware of their mistakes.
Gruman, J.A., Schneider, F.W., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications
Kochman, B. (2016, May 17). Ex-teacher who poisoned, drowned her two kids gets 8 years in prison by judge who couldn’t ignore ‘role of post-partum depression’. New York Daily News. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/ex-teacher-drowned-kids-8-years-prison-article-1.2640369
The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. (n.d.). Postpartum Depression Facts. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml