Postnatal Depression, it’s the 2 words no new mother wants to hear, yet here in Australia, 1 in 7 new mums are diagnosed with this condition every single year.
With this number on the rise, its time we looked at what Postnatal Depression really is and why its nothing to be ashamed of.
First off let me start by saying that it’s perfectly normal to feel a little emotional and out of sorts following childbirth.
I remember when I had my first little boy, I felt so overwhelmed. I’d read the baby books, followed my friends and families advice and I loved my little one with all my heart. Yet still I felt disconnected and alone. Fortunately, these feeling’s past after a few weeks and a chat with my local doctor revealed that I’d just been experiencing a case of the baby blues.
Also check out this real life Parenting Story: A Mothers Raw Struggles Of A Teething Baby.
Most new mums will experience the baby blues after giving birth. Which is no surprise considering your body has just been through 9 months of changes, both physical and hormonal. However if these negative emotions continue beyond the first few weeks, its time to seek support.
Postnatal Depression is a type of depression that affects new mums and can develop anywhere between 2 weeks to 12 months post giving birth. The cause is still unknown, however some factors that may contribute to the development of Postnatal Depression include: Lack of emotional support, a traumatic birthing experience, a negative environment, the effect of the physical changes on your body or excessive worry.
The symptoms of Postnatal Depression can vary from woman to woman, however common symptoms include:
Feeling tearful, overwhelmed, angry, guilty, resentful, anxious or restless.
- Having difficulty concentrating, a loss of sex drive or as if you cant bond with your baby.
- Feeling as if life is meaningless, withdrawing from others and being plagued with self doubt.
- Some women I’ve spoken to even describe it as feeling as if a black cloud has came over them.
Remember, these symptoms are not set in stone. You know your own mind and body, so if something doesn’t feel right, seek support.
The most common way to diagnose Postnatal Depression is by using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This scale helps to identify how you’re really feeling and allows your health professional to identity if you need additional support or are at risk of developing Postnatal Depression.
If you are diagnosed with Postnatal Depression, please know that this doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum or any less capable of caring for your baby. It’s actually a really positive thing to happen as it means you can get the support you need so you can get on with being an amazing mum.
There are so many options for treatment and support available, ranging from accessing additional support to help you care for your new bundle of joy and medications that help to regulate your hormones to talking therapies that will support you to work through your fears, thoughts and concerns. Your health professional will work with you to identify what option or options will work best for you.
At the end of the day, the bravest thing you can do is seek support. You’re not alone and postnatal depression is nothing to be ashamed of. The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can get on with enjoying being the amazing mum you already are.
If know or suspect someone you know and care about may be suffering from Postnatal Depression, there are a number of ways you can help them. Start by being understanding and supportive. Don’t judge them, instead reassure them, be patience and even offer to help out with cleaning, cooking or baby sitting if appropriate. Most importantly, be there to listen to them, sometimes all we need is someone to listen and to know we’re not alone.
Postnatal Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s an illness that can affect any new mum, regardless of their colour, culture, social status or support network. The most important thing is to no you’re not alone and that help and support will always be available, you just have to ask.
You can seek support and further information by contacting:
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 11 14
Your local Doctor.