Postnatal Depression


Postnatal Depression; one of the most difficult parts? …. Asking for help.

For the majority of women, childbirth is the most physical & emotional experience! Parents have mix emotions on the arrival of their baby: exhaustion (from the birth) and elation (following the birth). Men’s experience of pregnancy and birth is often different …. however, at the end of the day the result is the same …. A crash course into parenthood. It is important that parents give themselves time to settle into their new roles and to recover from the birth.

First time parents generally fumble their way through the first few weeks, with everyone’s opinions on how it should be done instantly in their ears. Parenting is a demanding and constant job: 24 hours a day 7 days a week with no holidays! It is full of routines, feeding, dressing, washing and of course, lack of sleep! Babies are very demanding.  Unfortunately, many couples enter into pregnancy with unrealistic expectations. With all of these combined – it is no wonder why many parents take time to adjust to parenthood.

Myths of parenthood include: Motherhood is always happy and will fulfill your every desire, baby’s sleep; Every mother copes; Having a baby will improve your marriage; Once you’re a mother you will instinctively know how to breastfeed; When you have your baby you will naturally know what to do; Parenthood comes naturally; Baby’s sleep; Mothers should be available 24 hours a day; Parenthood is romantic; The baby will fit into our routine; baby’s sleep.

When parenthood does not meet previous ‘expectations’ parents tend to blame themselves. When parents are not coping it can be difficult for them to admit. It is a common belief that, if you ask for help, you are bad parents or not trying hard enough. Although this is a misconception and far from the truth … parents continue to go it alone.

There are a number of factors that can place women at a greater chance of developing Post Natal Depression (PND). It is important to remember however that depression does not discriminate and it can affect anyone at anytime. Obvious signs of PND may include but are not inclusive to PND; Always exhausted, crying uncontrollably, feeling teary, not being able to sleep when given the chance or excessive sleep, nightmares, dramatic mood changes, irritability, negative thoughts, forgetfulness, scared of being alone, not wanting to be with others, feeling unable to cope, feeling inadequate or failing as a mother, the feeling of guilt towards motherhood, under/over eating, obsessive thoughts, anxiety or panic feelings, inability to cope with general daily activities, feeling afraid to be alone with your baby, low self esteem or feeling that life just isn’t worth it.

Postnatal Depression, however, is not just feeling low in mood. Signs and symptoms of PND vary considerably. Feelings associated with bringing a new baby into the world can sometimes be misinterpreted as ‘normal’ and ‘expected’. Sleep deprivation and depression present very similar – sleep can make our ability to function very difficult. However, if you develop feelings that are interfering with your enjoyment of parenting you need to seek help immediately.

Parents should not be frightened of the diagnosis of postnatal depression. It is important to acknowledge when something is wrong and that it’s OK to seek help. Your first point of call should be your general practitioner (GP) or for more information or beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636


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