“After delivery, women realize their enormous responsibility to a newborn child,” said Tamar Tandashvili, a psychologist and anthropology lecturer at Tbilisi’s Ilia State University. “They vividly realize that they now have an unbreakable emotional link which will last to the end of their lives. It’s a huge psychological step.”
She added that mothers’ fears and anxieties often lead them to do everything in their power to monitor their infant’s wellbeing, even at the expense of their own mental health.
That was the experience of Khatia Basilashvili, a 30-year-old mother to a three-year-old boy, who recalled feeling deep anxiety and suffering panic attacks.
“I banned sleep as believed that during sleep something horrible would happen to my child,” she said. “I slept for only three to five hours over the course of three days, I was seized by panic and fear. The condition led to high blood pressure and my family had no other choice but to inject me with tranquilizers.
“Beyond a mental breakdown, my depression really became physical,” Basilashvili continued. “I refused to shower, wash, or brush my hair. I was wearing the same t-shirt, with parts cut out to make it more comfortable for breastfeeding; the front of my shirt was wet with milk most of the time. When my panic attacks built up, I was often told to calm down: ‘who hasn’t had a child before, we’ve all been there!’”
Such narratives, Tandashvili said, were “enormously destructive” but widespread in Georgia’s patriarchal society.