Becoming a mother is expected to be a joyous and happy occasion, full of Kodak moments. The transition to motherhood is a period of intense change – physically, emotionally and mentally – that can be incredibly overwhelming. When the dreams about motherhood don’t always match the realities, it can be both frustrating and disappointing. At first, when they come home from hospital, new moms often feel tired, tearful, overwhelmed and unsure. This is completely normal and is known as the ‘baby blues’. It usually passes over a few days as a woman recovers from delivery and adapts to motherhood. However, for some moms these feelings go on to develop into Post Natal Depression (PND).
PND affects 10-15% of mothers. The earlier it is recognised the faster a mother will recover.
If you think that you, or someone you know, is suffering from PND there are signs to look out for. While birth and tending to the needs of a newborn inevitably leave you very tired, getting out of bed and getting dressed can feel like climbing a mountain in terms of the effort and energy required, when you are suffering from PND. Your days may seem long and dark, with little joy or reason to be happy. You are thrilled to have your baby and you love them with all your heart, yet you’re very sad for reasons you can’t understand. Low mood, difficulty sleeping, tearfulness, feelings of being unable to cope and poor concentration can all be symptoms of PND.
Many women don’t give much thought to PND during pregnancy because they think it will never happen to them. Maybe it ‘isn’t in the family’ or didn’t happen after the birth of their other children. It is good to read up on it a little before a baby arrives, to help understand and recognise the symptoms.
It is a good idea to know how to get support after the baby arrives. This can be from other moms through Baby and Toddler groups. Mothers in similar situations can give emotional and practical peer support by sharing experiences. At the very least, these groups encourage you to get dressed and out of the house on a weekly basis.
The most important thing to do is look for help. Talk to your partner, family GP or Public Health Nurse. You will have a lot of contact with your Public Health Nurse/GP after your baby is born: They have experience with PND. They are there to support you and will guide you through and direct you to support services.
For further reading on PND and for details of local Baby and Toddler groups go to www.loveparenting.ie