Post Natal Depression
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Having a baby is usually a positive experience for mothers and fathers; society expects us to feel happy and fulfilled as we welcome a new life into our world. Yet parents have a major readjustment to deal with, these include the loss of independence, changes in financial status or security, and sometimes changes in relationships with those in different circumstances. Although you may feel prepared for these changes, having a baby can still be a shock for many people.
It is perfectly normal to feel emotional, vulnerable and sensitive after your baby is born. Some mothers may feel confused about their feelings – that they should be overjoyed and instantly fall in love with their baby. This is not always the case and there are understandable reasons why you may not feel like this. For example you may have had a difficult labour or a traumatic delivery which has left you feeling exhausted and possibly unfulfilled of the expectations you may have had. Don’t forget we are not taught how to be mothers; it is something we need to learn for ourselves, and at this time of our lives we sometimes need to be mothered ourselves.
Approximately one in two mothers experience baby blues after the birth of their child. These typically occur between three to five days after the birth. One theory is that they coincide with the hormonal changes that occur as the breast milk starts to come in. Other theories are that the baby blues are due to the ‘come down’ after the effects of endorphins, or that they are a sort of physical shock reaction after the upheaval of birth. You may feel weepy, irritable, have a low mood and feel that you lack confidence in caring for your baby. This is very normal and these feelings usually subside after a week or so. It is perfectly acceptable to have a good cry and to talk to someone about how you are feeling.
Postnatal depression is a recognized and treatable condition that affects approximately 15 – 20% of new mothers and 10% of fathers experience depression and or anxiety after the birth of their child. It can affect anyone irrespective of background. Although it can occur straight after the birth it often does not get acknowledged or recognised until later on. However, for some women it may come on later in the year – some women get depressed after a few months. The most common signs and symptoms of postnatal depression are low mood, anxiety, inability to look forward to anything, lack of motivation and extreme tiredness. Some mothers may not actually feel depressed but may feel far more anxious or agitated which is a common symptom of PND. They may not know what they are feeling anxious about and may experience panic attacks due to their anxiety. These feelings can be very frightening; however they are very normal and symptomatic of PND and will decrease and eventually disappear with recovery. Some mothers may be feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of having a baby and may become anxious about the baby’s health and sometimes their own health.
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