Mom-blogger, branding and marketing strategist, and a true sewing artist, Mrs Tanvi S. Parekh joins us today to discuss the experience she has had while confronting Postpartum Depression and how she overcame this particular affliction.
Q. It would be amazing if you could tell us something about yourself and your child.
As you guys might know already, I'm a mum of a 2-year-old child. I was a marketing and branding strategist before this. Right now, I'm on a sabbatical and enjoying it thoroughly. I'm also a blogger and a mom-blogger influencer on Instagram.
My daughter’s going to turn 2 in September and she's extremely naughty and a very active child who keeps me really busy. It is a lot of fun. The rest you can see from her pictures on my profile.
Q. What are your opinions on motherhood?
I think it’s a beautiful journey but to each their own. This is something you should really get into if you want to and if that’s something that might be on your mind. It’s something very personal to me and it’s so beautiful, I cannot express it in words what kind of experience this whole thing is. But it does come with its own challenges so you have to take the whole package deal.
Q. Can you tell our readers what exactly post-partum depression is?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is also known as Baby Blues. This is something that most new mothers experience. It starts soon after delivery and can last up to 2 years. It’s a mix of feelings such as depression, anxiety, not feeling really happy and excited about having a baby, etc. In some cases, women do tend to isolate themselves and get pushed towards suicidal thoughts, and so the range is different but it can be something as small as not feeling good about yourself to an extreme reaction. There are cases where women tend to not develop feelings for the baby; they don't feel like holding the baby for too long. A lot of the times it is got nothing to do with the baby, they just feel bad in general. Thus, the whole range of postpartum depression differs from person to person.
Q. Have you been through this phase? And if yes, can you please share your experience with us?
I did go through it, and I think it was because I had read about it and heard about PPD, so as soon as I started seeing the symptoms, I started taking steps to counter it. I was feeling a little low, exhausted mentally and physically, it was making me have sleepless nights and the insomnia was catching up. The anxiety, the worry that "Oh My God! What is going to happen next? Will I be able to do this or am I doing this right?" All these things were probably bothering me so much that I realized that this is something unusual and that this is not me.
I realized that I needed to consult my gynecologist or my doctor and take immediate help because I didn't want it to get worse. But in most cases, women are not aware that there's something called PPD and neither are the family members, so they really don't know where to look for help or how to fix the problem.
Q. What was your reaction to Postpartum Depression and how did you overcome it?
I figured out that this is something unusual. I contacted my doctor and told her this is what I'm feeling. She prescribed me some immediate medications to basically streamline myself in terms of sleep, in terms of easing out the stress I was feeling. I started taking care of myself; earlier it wasn't something that I was volunteering to do. Once I figured out that this can get worse for me and I might not enjoy motherhood because of this one reason, I took the medication, and I tried to sleep whenever I got a chance.
I had a lot of support from my husband so we could balance the whole baby caring time very well. He stopped me from getting completely exhausted. There are a lot of other things that one needs to do like taking care of yourself; what are you eating; what are you watching and listening to; who are the people you are interacting with. Of course, having access to good doctors and taking medications for it is also a very important step. Overall, you need to be conscious and aware of something like this; that’s how I took charge and started fixing these things.
Q. How was the support from your family and relatives during this dire phase?
I think my husband has been my biggest pillar in all of this. Both of us have been on the same page. We believe that raising a child is a 50/50 job for both the father and mother. It was never like “This is your job and this is what you're going to do and I'm just going to watch from a distance”. That wasn't his attitude. He was extremely supportive and helpful and he was one of the first people who I had told that I was not feeling good. He understood my situation and stood by me the entire time. Because as a spouse you need to understand what your partner is going through and that a big part of these feelings come from the hormones. I often see husbands taunting their wives and making comments that this is something a woman should do. All those things weren't there in our relationship because he was very supportive, helpful and was there the entire time.
Q. You said that a major reason for why you were able to cope with PPD is because you were aware of its existence. Where and how did you out find about it?
The thing is that now people have become very vocal. PPD has always existed, it’s not like the Corona Virus which is a recent development. It has always been there, women have always had it, they just never spoke about it. They just never shared their experiences. They weren't taken seriously. They didn't have support at home.
Ever since the internet has taken charge of our lives, there's a lot of information floating around. Way before I had my baby, I had been reading about these things and was amazed to know that something like this exists. About 3 years ago, I had made a colouring book for adults. It’s supposed to be a destressing book which is supposed to calm down their anxiety and helps calm their mind. When I was making that book I did a lot of research on anxiety, depression, and what is colour therapy and art therapy; that is when I realized that from all the elaborate and numerous reasons for depression, Postpartum is also one of them.
That's how I really got to know about it in-depth way before I had a child myself. Hence, I had an idea that there's something like this that exists. My book at that point was bought by so many women who were pregnant or just had a child and were battling different sorts of anxieties during that entire phase.
Q. If you could tell us something about #flatlaywithbabym? How did it all start?
The fun part about PPD was that I was always looking for ways to engage myself. I really wanted to click pictures of my daughter. But somehow throughout the day I was so exhausted that I couldn't find any time to dress her up and click her pictures. I realized that the best time to click pictures of her is when she's sleeping. I wondered that how am I supposed to click pictures if she’s sleeping, so I decided to put her on a mattress and then create a set with chart paper and cloth and create a scene like a painting and place her on that. After the first couple of pictures I clicked and uploaded on my Instagram, so many people started messaging me that you should do more of this. I started receiving so much encouragement from my friends and family, from everybody. I was like wow! This seems like a good idea and it serves me a good purpose because I get to document her entire journey since her birth until whenever it’s possible. So that's how flatlaywithbabym started.
Q. How has this whole journey been in terms of the pain which you have been through?
See everything has pain, challenges, and difficulties. Nothing comes easy. I think as humans we are all evolving. Yes, there have been challenges and difficulties, but I can never let that overshadow the whole joy of having a baby and raising it. It feels like such an achievement that you can take care of a human being and you can inculcate good habits and good beliefs and practices in the child. What is the most beautiful part is that I have some good qualities and I definitely want her to pick those up but I also have some bad qualities and I will work my entire life so that she never picks them up. That sort of fairness makes the entire process so beautiful and enriching. Now when I see her around me, I cannot understand why did I take so long to have a baby. It's so nice to be a part of something like this in your life, something you created and sculpted. It is one of the most beautiful experiences one can go through.
Q. Any last message to all the mothers out there and specifically mothers who are going through PPD?
If you have seen my posts, I have spoken a lot about PPD and Postpartum exhaustion and so many other things like that. The message that I have for these mothers is that first, please don’t get overwhelmed. Hundreds and millions of women give birth to children and everybody's way of coping with their Postpartum challenges is different. There's no sort of competition going on; there's no report card that everybody will be judging you on. This is your experience; you can try it the way you like it. Take charge and make sure that you don't forget to take care of yourself. Take your time, use all the privileges you have.
The second part I'd like to address is that there are a lot of women I see who are new mothers who get extremely offended, disturbed, and worried when other mothers come and give them advice. I think the first outlook you have towards another mother's advice is that “My God! Why is she telling me, look at her kid!” Now that needs to stop. See one of the reasons she's probably telling you is because nobody told her. She has had her share of challenges and troubles and with her own experience, she has learned that this works and this does not. So if another mother is telling you to do something it is just to make your journey easier. It’s up to you. Don't take it as sarcasm, don’t take it as anything else. Please take the best from everybody and do what you feel like. Like they say "Suno sab ki, Karo apni"; that's the mantra you need to follow. Don't get personal about this whole thing.
The third point is something that is very very important: Taking help from your spouse through this entire journey. What happens is that women often have too much on their plate. By the end of the day, the mother is the most exhausted person in all of this and the baby needs the mother constantly. This builds up a lot of frustration and anger and this becomes the cause of your depression/anxiety. My suggestion would be to please take the support of your husband; involve him and speak to him, get him on the same page as you are, and ask for help.
Even if there are little tasks like massaging or taking care of the baby for a little while, watching him/her, feeding her, changing her nappies; please involve them. This entire journey of becoming a parent becomes so much easier when there are 2 people involved. And if you have a spouse then why not!
I think if mothers take care of these 3 aspects they can find solutions to all sorts of depression, anxiety and whatever that they feel and enjoy this experience of motherhood completely and thoroughly.
Mrs Tanvi's imagination is truly limitless and she finds unique outlets to display her talents to the world. Bathe in her creativity by following her Instagram page @tanvisparekh.