Postnatal depression is something extremely relevant to us at Up All Hours, with our Aly recently going through it. Due to Aly's personally experience, we have read up, educated ourselves and spoken to loads of Up All Hours members who have had their own experiences. It seemed only right that we asked our resident GP Dr Bella for some insight into Postnatal depression and the Baby Blues. Dr Bella revealed that it is consistantly one topic that keeps coming up, with the quesitons of what 'what is it?' 'How do I know if I have got it?'.
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Having a baby is a life changing experience, in many ways it is the best day of our lives but for some people it turns our lives on our heads, and our new selves are unrecognisable. There are so many emotions that we are bombarded with, combined with the pain and trauma of childbirth. We all have different feelings: joy, excitement, sadness and disappointment. It is so important that we can talk honestly about our experiences and not feel ashamed of our feelings. This will help the healing process and help to improve your relationship with your child and family.
My main disappointment after the birth of my first baby was the fact that I was unable able to give birth naturally and instead of this 'amazing delivery' I had a crash section, causing all sorts of distress and worry for everyone involved. Thankfully the whole obstetric team were incredible, my daughter was ok and I now have 2 healthy children.
I tell my patients - it is ok to feel disappointed about the sex of the baby, it is ok not to feel you have bonded with your baby straight away, its ok to resent your partner as he hasn't been torn in half by a 9lb baby! Talking about how you feel and sharing your experiences is not just ok, it is an important part of the healing process and helps you move on and enjoy your new baby.
1) Baby Blues
Baby Blues are very common and affect between 50-70% of women in the first few days or the first week after giving birth. They are called baby blues as you feel 'blue', or sad, with a low mood. You may feel tearful, tired, sensitive to criticism or anxious. What is important about Baby Blues is that it is transient, which means it will go after a few days and is often very short lived. There is no treatment needed except love and support from your friends and family.
Baby blues are more common after your first delivery and can be made worse if you are very sleep deprived or had a difficult, painful delivery. Also if you have worries about the future, if the pregnancy was unwanted or if you are not happy in your relationship. But by day 6 your mood should improve.
2) Postnatal Depression
Postnatal Depression is similar to Baby Blues in that you feel low in mood, tearful and hopeless but the symptoms persist for weeks or months and are more severe. Other symptoms may include not sleeping well, over or under eating and self neglect. Self neglect is an interesting one as if you ask any new mum if they have had time to brush their teeth or wash their hair the answer is nearly always no! But it is something to be aware of.
Also Postnatal depression doesn't necessarily occur immediately after the birth and you may notice your mood dropping later on, around 3 - 6 months after birth. I actually think this is when women are at their most vulnerable - when the adrenaline of having a new baby goes and the reality of life is hitting home.
Postnatal depression is common and will affect 10-15% of all pregnancies, so it is important that we are all aware of it and look our for it in our friends, family and loved ones. Your Midwife, Health Visiter and GP should all be on the look out for depression through all your antenatal and post natal checks.
Similar to Baby Blues depression is often made worse by a difficult social situation or an unwanted pregnancy, and you are more at risk if you have had post natal depression before.
3) What should I do if I think I have post natal depression?
Raising awareness and recognising the symptoms are so important. If you are concerned please speak to a loved one or someone you trust. Then book an appointment with a health professional, either your GP, Health Visitor or Midwife.
See your GP or Health Visitor. If you find it hard to get an appointment or if the receptionist asks you 'is it an emergency?' I think the tendency especially when you are depressed is to put yourself last and say 'no, that's fine I'll wait'. I would argue that 'it is an emergency' and yes you need to be seen as soon as possible, or at least you need to speak on the phone to a professional. Ask a family member to help you if you feel overwhelmed.
Once you are diagnosed with depression there will be different treatment options available for you in the form of support, counselling, therapy and medication. For some women they need referral to a specialist for management.
4) What is Post Partum Psychosis?
This is a rare complication of childbirth where the mother can experience clouding of consciousness, and hallucinations or delusions most commonly about the baby. The mother may be paranoid or at risk of harming or neglecting the baby.
The most common time for this to occur is around day 2 post delivery and if diagnosed with this the mum and baby may be admitted to hospital under the care of psychiatry for close support, medication and treatment. Mum and baby are mostly admitted together to ensure that their relationship is maintained and nurtured. This condition is rare but it is important to be aware of it and if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one you must seek help from you GP or Health visitor.
Raising awareness of Mental health problems is very important. If you are concerned at all please see your GP or have a look on the following websites: www.mind.org.uk www.samaritans.org'