Post-Partum Depression and baby blues – An Interview

❝Every parent goes through their own unique journey, no matter how much they prepare for it. Sometimes the reality of going through it is a bit scary, and that’s completely okay because any kind of birth is like a rebirth to the mother! – MINU GNANAMOORTHY There is indeed something engaging about interviewing someone and […]

❝Every parent goes through their own unique journey, no matter how much they prepare for it. Sometimes the reality of going through it is a bit scary, and that’s completely okay because any kind of birth is like a rebirth to the mother!


There is indeed something engaging about interviewing someone and learning at least a couple of new things you didn’t know from the conversation! I spoke about postpartum mental health, a sensitive subject, with Minu Gnanamoorthy, from Coimbatore Parenting Network. She is a postpartum mental health coach and counsellor, and most importantly, a mother herself.

(CPN: Coimbatore parenting network is a non-profit group that works to offer parenting tools to parents and the to-be parents. From breastfeeding to gentle parenting or early childhood development, they have got it all covered!)

The interview did not take place in a formal setting, it was more like a friendly conversation over tea with a friend during the night. Minu was like the wise older friend that everyone has, and it was an uninhibited conversation with her. I walked away from the conversation with a better and clearer understanding about this subject.

The kick-off

It is not surprising that people around the world struggle to understand postpartum mental health. 85% of women feel at least some level of mood disturbances after their pregnancy which, fortunately, might be short-lived, but at least 10 to 15% of them might have long-standing issues as well. I personally have heard my mother talk about this, about how she felt this unreasonable fear right after my birth, but I did not understand her or even process fully what she meant. It is high time that I, and everyone else who is clueless about this condition, learn about how anxiety and depression work in the perinatal world.  

Minu and I didn’t leap into the deep end of the issue right away. Instead, I started off with a simple question: “What exactly is perinatal anxiety or depression?” She told me, “To begin with, we need to get one important thing on the table, the fact that women go through a rapid flow of hormonal activity during and post pregnancy, which mainly includes estrogen and progesterone, and maybe even thyroid hormones. It is seen how these levels drop very low for the first 48 hours after pregnancy and this will definitely tend to take a mental toll on the mother, let alone the physical toll they’ve already been through!” 

Whatever scientific facts she gave me made complete sense, but what actually hit home was when she mentioned how in spite of all this, what is most difficult to mothers during this vulnerable time is the fear of expressing what they feel. 

“The inadequacy of the people the mother is closest to, their partner, their parents, and friends is what hurts them the most! Imagine how hard it must be to go through physical and mental changes for months in a row and to add on top of it, not get the support from the ones you love that you totally deserve to have!”

The three gremlins

Coming back to facts, she explained how there are stages of disturbances in a parent. Blues, anxiety, or depression tend to be present, and the worst of them all, psychosis.

1. Blues/Anxiety

Baby blues is pretty inevitable for most mothers for around four weeks or so, with going through painful deliveries and/or C-sections, which again Minu thinks is a complex surgery taken very lightly, with hurtful dialogues like, “Oh, they ‘just’ had a C-section, unlike normal deliveries.” In addition to the process, having to deal with separation from the child immediately after delivery for medical purposes, having a swarm of relatives or people over with barely any personal space for the mother and the baby to bond, and more puts the parent in a dull or agitated mood. This is not an ‘Oh my God, it’s an emergency’ kind of situation, but handling the parent with care and warmth, and giving them the support they need is the bare minimum.

2. Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is heavier, needing the right attention and the right kind of help. It happens over a period of a couple of months post-childbirth. “This is not something that you can easily break down with a given set of symptoms. It’s important for family and friends, apart from the parent themselves, to recognize the changes in the mental health status and seek out the right kind of counselling or drugs that the mind needs,” She told me when I asked her if there was a checklist of symptoms we could look out for, but if we were to look out for common symptoms, they would be,

  • – Sadness or extended crying
  • – Inability to sleep or eat properly
  • – Not keeping themselves healthy
  • – Loss of interest in routines
  • – A sensation of fear or incompetence
  • – Fatigue
  • – Self-harm thoughts

3. Psychosis

Psychosis is the worst stage of postpartum depression. It was scary to hear Minu explain how it could lead to extremely hurtful situations like an overall feeling of giving up, suicidal thoughts, or worse, an emotional drive to hurt the child, which she explained could be because of feelings like, “My child put me in this position of unhealthiness.”

There are very low clarity levels in the parent at this stage, and this requires intense medication or other forms of help. In short, this is an ‘Oh, we need help right now!’ situation. It was spine-chilling when she mentioned a piece of news that she read a couple of years ago about a mother who died by suicide because she could not battle with her depressive episodes anymore.

So, how do we help?

What Minu had to first emphasise was that the patriarchal outlook of how a woman is responsible for the child must be thrown out the window. It’s important to share parenting roles. 

When I asked her what she, as a counsellor and fellow parent does, she had just one word for me.


Sometimes, sentiments like, ‘I think I might need a nap or a break’ might mean more than what it seems. It is important for the parent to take breaks and prioritise their me-time, especially at this juncture. As a supportive individual, you can hear them out. Letting people talk about their emotions, especially to support groups with other parents going through similar issues might provide relief and solidarity. Attending counselling sessions for the same is also a plausible option.

It is also highly helpful when stereotypically hurtful dialogues are avoided. For example, saying things like, “I’ve been through this so many times too, I don’t understand what the fuss is about!” or, “She is not a good mother, motherhood is not her cup of tea,” creates a far deeper impact than one might think. Minu seemed to think that if people could not be of help to the parent, staying away and giving space could be of great help as well.

As a counsellor and as someone who moved to a new place where she barely knew anyone, Minu explained how safe it felt to have a group of like-minded and importantly, open-minded people to talk to, and how she wanted to in turn reach out and provide that space to others in need of the same. When asked if being a parent boosted her abilities as a counsellor, she said that it is not a requirement but being able to relate to the backbone of the situation sure helps!

Do other caregivers also struggle with PPD? 

When I asked her what this would be like from the partner’s point of view, I learned how the partners who have not physically gone through the pregnancy phase could have the blues too! It is seen that around 1 in 10 fathers suffer from PPD as well, but the deeply rooted patriarchy tends to disregard their feelings in this regard.

If kids are too young to not understand what is going on, it is important to make sure the health of the child is not compromised, and if they are old enough to figure out the mood swings of parents, it is very fundamental to make them feel safe, and more essentially, like Minu said, 

“The kid must never feel like it is their fault.” 

It is important to sit and talk, and explain how everything is, in ways a child would comprehend it. 

When I asked if she thinks the perinatal field is well developed yet, she said, 

“It is definitely more developed than what it was, but to keep up the progress, being socially helpful, and more importantly aware, is very important, which again is in the developmental stages. Also, it’s an Indian thing that we always have a lot of people around, so why not use that to your advantage!” 

She also pointed out how much more could be learned from international websites like PSI: Postpartum Support International, which aims at making all public and professional communities aware of the same! 

To conclude

After a round of thanking her for educating me, I realised that a lot of questions have been asked and answered in this interview, but the whole point is that there could be so much more doubts, confusions, misunderstandings, or just plain curiosity. It is crucial that people don’t walk away without getting the answers to them. Minu encourages everyone to keep the questions coming!

It is important to not treat the entire role of motherhood as just blissful, like how popular culture often tends to portray, but to also make sure to be empathetic towards the emotional and mental abyss that it carries on its sleeve along with the whirlwind of an experience of motherhood.






Writer: Sowmya Subramanian

Editor: Poojitha Balamurugan