Post Natal Depression
A combination of factors can trigger postnatal depression, the NHS states that up to eight out of 10 mothers go through ‘the baby blues’, often about three or four days after the birth. Mothers may feel upset, mildly depressed or feel like crying for no apparent reason. It’s quite normal to feel like this and hormonal responses have been linked to it’s onset, although this may be just one influence. It could only last for a few days, however, some mothers can become severely depressed. The onset of Post natal depression can be misunderstood as it may begin within the first six months of giving birth, or at any time within the first year. For some women, depression begins in pregnancy (antenatal depression).
There are a number of symptoms which may include:
- A feeling of sadness and hopelessness
- Irritability and Anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- A feeling of numbness or lack of emotion or feeling overly emotional
- Overwhelming tiredness
- Feeling like you’re a ‘bad mother/person’
- Feeling as if you’ve suddenly become ‘invisible’
How does it affect you?
Postnatal depression can be serious and if left untreated, can last longer than a year. A new birth is a big event and obviously brings great change to those involved. Sometimes even though a child is welcome, it can be hard to adjust to those changes. Support for new mothers can be lacking because relatives often live far away and friends may not be immediate neighbours. Sometimes, when your friends and family are with you, you may find that their expectations about how you should be doing things are not necessarily the same as yours. Alternatively, your feelings may not be as intense as you expect them to be immediately after birth – for some women, it can take some time before the feelings of love for your new baby develop. Mothers suffering from post natal depression may feel isolated or find bonding with their new child difficult and worry that they will never be able to achieve this. This can cause a sense of guilt, resentment or difficulties with other family members (Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 2009).
How does postnatal depression affect your child?
Recent studies have associated postnatal depression with adverse effects on children’s later emotional & behavioural development (Oxford University, 2007). I believe the mother child connection is of paramount importance as this relationship is the first one a child experiences, and provides the base on which all other relationships are built. Therefore help at this stage can significantly benefit both mother and baby.
If you are concerned about or have experienced depression or Post Natal Depression in the past, what steps can you take?
Studies show that having an effective support network can be very beneficial. Whether it’s partner, family, friends or organisations. For example Joining a local support network prior to the birth of your baby can be a positive move. A mother and toddlers group may offer exactly the support and shared experience that you need after the birth. You could try something like the National Childbirth Trust or NetMums
If you regularly exercise and your doctor/ midwife agrees, continue either during and/ or after pregnancy. You may have to alter the form of exercise you do or the intensity, but for example if you practice yoga, there are special pregnancy classes you can attend. Something as simple as going for a walk in a park can help reduce stress levels and produce feel good endorphins.
Practice EFT, Self Hypnosis or other relaxation techniques regularly, preferably prior to, during and after the birth. Practicing these techniques can make it easier to relax after the birth and will be a powerful aid to de-stressing. We are far more able to cope with stress if we have a tool or method to help us relax.
It is important that you have time for you.
Events: Low- Cost workshop for mothers suffering from ‘Baby Blues’ and Post Natal Depression
10am – 12pm Saturday 13th November 2010 in Wheatley, Oxford