For many parents, the birth of a new baby into the family is a positive experience. However, up to 1 in every 5 mothers can have feelings of sadness or depression shortly after their baby is born. New babies bring on new tasks. Babies bring on a whole new lifestyle. New babies also bring on many mixed emotions for mothers as their bodies change drastically both during pregnancy and after. During these exciting and sometimes very stressful changes, parents need to take care of themselves just as well as they are taking care of the new baby that’s turned their world upside down.
When parents bring home their bundle of joy, many mothers are simply drained. Mothers tend to go through a roller-coaster of emotions after the birth of a child. Many become easily upset and tearful. This is extremely common and can be referred to as the baby blues.
Most new mothers and even fathers have a mixture of feelings that may include sadness.
This feeling can be related to many factors:
- Stressed by the new responsibility of a new baby
- Parenthood is not what you expected
- Tiredness and exhaustion
- Discomfort or pain following the birth of your child
- Lack of support
- The loss of your previous lifestyle
- Body changes and your physical appearance
How can you adjust to the new baby?
- Have realistic Expectations
- Look after yourself
- Talk about how you are feeling
- Organize Practical Help
- Find Support
Recognizing Postnatal Depression:
- Crying for no reason
- Overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, irritability, anger
- Loss of self-confidence
- Disinterested in your baby, family or friends
- Exhaustion and problems sleeping
- Poor concentration and organization
- Dietary changes – lack of appetite or overeating
- Thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
- Thoughts of suicide
- Exaggerated fears
- Unable to cope with baby
What Causes Postnatal Depression?
- Feelings of isolation
- Relationship problems
- Stressful life events
- Physical un-wellness
- Lack of personal time
- Complications after birth
- Difficult baby
- Unrealistic expectations
- Previous experience of loss
What to do if you feel depressed:
- Notice the problem
- Talk with someone
- Visit a health professional
- Join a support group
Remember parents; do not ever feel guilty or ashamed about your feelings. It is very important to keep the communication open with your partner or support person. It is ok to be asking for help!
Family and friends: keep in mind that many depressed parents will not ask for help. It is important for you to be aware of the possibility of postnatal depression. Take the time and really listen to the new parents. Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. It is a nice idea to offer support and help to the parents of a new child; such as offering childcare so they can have some alone time, prepare a meal for them, or simply being an open support.