Not to be confused with feeling a little blue directly after having your baby. Most women feel tearful and low once or twice in the first ten days after birth, while their body sorts itself out and breast milk begins to come through fully. Emotions usually run high around day three and day ten after giving birth and during these days you may feel over whelmed and low.
Postnatal Depression is a depressive illness which affects between 10 to 15 in every 100 women having a baby. The symptoms are similar to those in depression at other times. These include:
- low mood
- you may struggle to look after yourself and your baby
- you may find simple tasks difficult to manage
- your sleeping patterns will have changed
- you may lose your appetite and forget to eat. Some women eat for comfort and then feel bad about gaining weight.
- You may feel tearful for no reason you can think of or feel angry about something that doesn’t usually warrant it.
- You find that you can’t enjoy or be interested in anything. You may not enjoy being with your baby. You may have lost interest in sex.
Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and can appear from out of the blue.
Depression changes your thinking:
- you may have very negative thoughts
- you might think that you are not a good mother or that your baby doesn’t love you
- you may feel guilty for feeling like this or that this is your fault
- you may lose your confidence
- you might think you can’t cope with things.
Most new mothers worry about their babies’ health. If you have PND, the anxiety can be overwhelming. You may worry that:
- your baby is very ill
- your baby is not putting on enough weight
- your baby is crying too much and you can’t settle him/her
- your baby is too quiet and might have stopped breathing
- you might harm your baby
- you have a physical illness
- your PND will never get better.
You may be so worried that you are afraid to be left alone with your baby. You may need re-assurance from your partner, health visitor or GP. When you feel anxious, you may have some of the following:
- racing pulse
- thumping heart
- fear that you may have a heart attack or collapse.
You may avoid situations, such as crowded shops because you are afraid of having panic symptoms. You may not want to see friends and family. You might find it hard to go to postnatal support groups.
It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. Post natal depression can creep up on you even a year after your baby was born. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.
If you are more unwell, you will need help from your GP and health visitor. If your PND is severe, you may need care and treatment from a mental health service or to spend some time in a mother a baby ward, to keep you both safe and well.
Don’t leave it or hope you’ll begin to feel better soon. Talk to someone or go and see your health visitor.