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Post Natal Depression

Caring for your baby should be a wonderful experience, but for many mums, at some time during the first few days, weeks or months, it is not. Being at home with a new baby who seems to always need feeding and changing, who takes all your attention and leaves you feeling really tired, can be a lonely experience.

This does not mean that you are failing as a mum.

It is a combination of your body and your hormones getting back to normal, after having been through a life changing experience.

We know that:

  • Not every mum copes straight away with motherhood.
  • Around 15% of women suffer post-natal depression.
  • Most women suffer ‘baby blues’ in the first ten days.
  • The sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll feel better.
  • Talk to your midwife or health visitor about your worries.
  • Make the most of help from family and friends.

Recognising the signs

‘Baby blues’
Around 50-80% of new mums get the ‘baby blues’ when they feel, not surprisingly, very tired, worried and weepy during the first few days after the birth. This usually disappears without the need for treatment about ten days after the birth.

Post-natal depression
Around 10-15% of women will have worse depression, sometimes weeks or months after the birth of their baby. About half of these cases happen in the first three months, and 75% of cases by six months.

These mums have more powerful and longer lasting symptoms such as:

  • Constant weepiness;
  • Worry, tension;
  • Difficulty in bonding with the baby;
  • Loss of interest in sex;
  • Trouble sleeping;
  • Feeling very tired and restless;
  • Feeling alone or isolated; or
  • Feelings of guilt and resentment.

Many women do not see that they have post-natal depression and carry on without getting the help they need. It is often women who expect a lot of themselves and of motherhood who find caring for a new baby hard to cope with.

What can you do if you feel depressed?

  • If you feel depressed, it is very important that you get support.
  • Talk to family and friends and let them know how you feel so that they can support you.
  • Your Doctor can talk about treatment options with you, such as counselling and anti-depressants.
  • You can also go along to a local mothers’ group, which can be an enormous support to new mums. You can find out about these from your Doctor, midwife, health visitor or local children’s centre.
  • There is lots more useful advice on the post-natal depression website www.pni.org.uk

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