After having a baby, a woman's' body goes through a number of changes, including changes in hormone levels, in sleep patterns and even in daily routines, and it is normal to feel frustrated and overwhelmed at times.
When you have given birth, you have just managed the physical equivalent of running a marathon (and for women who have a cesarean, also had major abdominal surgery) and now you are at home with a strange new person, who doesn’t speak your language, and is very demanding.
Any of these things would be challenging in themselves, but when combined, these factors can put great strain on a woman and her family.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily postnatal depression (PND) and in Australia, more than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression.
Virtually any woman can develop postnatal depression after the birth of her baby, but a traumatic birth experience, poverty, migration, extreme stress, exposure to violence, previous mental health issues, emergency situations, natural disasters, and lack of support generally increase the risk of developing postnatal depression.
Cue COVID 19, and now everyone is at risk of developing PND!
That doesn’t mean you will go on to develop PND, but it does mean that you may be at increased risk of developing PND.
Many women get the “baby blues,” or feel sad, within a few days of giving birth. For a lot of women, the baby blues go away but if your baby blues don’t go away or you feel sad, hopeless, or flat for longer than 2 weeks, you may have PND.
The symptoms of PND can include:
Feeling restless or moody
Feeling sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed
Crying a lot
Having thoughts of hurting the baby or yourself
Not having any interest in the baby, not feeling connected to the baby
Having no energy or motivation
Eating too little or too much
Sleeping too little or too much
Having trouble focusing or making decisions
Having memory problems
Feeling worthless, guilty, or like a bad mother
Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
And although it is normal to have bad days, if your symptoms last more than two weeks, it is important to seek help.
There are a range of places to get help including your midwife, a child health nurse or your G.P. If you are already seeing a mental health professional, you can speak to them about the way you are feeling.
Importantly, PND is treatable. It can be fixed and you can feel better.
Some of the resources which are available to help if you think you, or a loved one may have PND include;
Child, youth and family health service, Mackay- Phone 4885 7750.
PANDA-Phone 1300 726 306
Beyond Blue- Phone 1300 224 636
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline- Phone- 1800 822 436