Having a new baby is such an exciting time! It can also be an overwhelming time for any new mum or dad! You are tired, you can not control this new little person in your life, they certainly don't come with a manual, there are lots of visitors and life feels like it has been turned upside down! However, most parents will find that, with time these feelings will settle as they get to know their new baby and find some sort of 'routine' to their lives.
Many women suffer from the 'baby blues' around three to six days after their baby is born. This is completely normal and caused by a number of hormonal changes and exhaustion. Mums will often feel tearful and low in mood and find themselves crying for no apparent reason. This is normal and the feelings will pass normally within a few days or weeks if it is just the 'baby blues'.
However, some new mums and dads find themselves feeling low, depressed, tearful, anxious, having a lack of interest in anything and very tired for a longer period of time. If this is you, you may be suffering from Postnatal Depression.
Postnatal depression is a type of depression some women and men can experience after they have had a baby. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth, although in some cases it may not develop for several months. If you are concerned about how you are feeling or worried about someone you are close to, the best people to talk to are your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP. They will be able to carry out an assessment and offer the appropriate support and care.
Signs and Symptoms include;
- a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure
- lack of energy and feeling tired all of the time
- disturbed sleep
- difficulties with concentration
- low self-confidence
- poor appetite or increased appetite (comfort eating)
- feeling agitated or feeling like you can't be bothered
- thinking about suicide or self-harming
It's very important to understand that postnatal depression is an illness and you have no control over whether it affects you or not. You are not a 'bad' mum or dad if you suffer from Postnatal Depression and having it does not mean you do not love or care for your baby. There is still so much stigma attached to mental health conditions and this is one of the things stopping many parents suffering coming forward and asking for help.
The first step with managing Postnatal Depression is recognising the problem and talking to your family and friends will facilitate your recovery. Your GP will decide with you on the treatment specifically for you, but having support from your partner and close family and friends will really help. Once you are on the road to recovery, getting plenty of exercise will also be beneficial and is recognised as one of the main treatments for mild depression.
Please if you are relating to any of the symptoms metioned on here, seek help and you will find that light at the end of your tunnel. And you will be able to find enjoyment in your children and your life again!
We have an inspirational story coming up for our Guest Blog Post, from one mum that has overcome Postnatal Depression and is now dedicating her time to raising awareness.