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Postnatal Depression (or PND) affects 1 in 7 mothers in Australia each year and that figure only counts those women who have sought help.

It is the most common ‘complication’ of pregnancy and birth and yet it is rarely (if ever) mentioned in antenatal classes.

This means that new mums don’t know what to look out for and can struggle through PND believing how they are feeling is ‘normal’ or just a phase. I know I spent the first few months wondering when I would snap out of it.

Every mother is unique, and so will experience PND differently, rarely are 2 women’s experiences the same.

The symptoms of PND include (but are not limited to):

  • Lack of enjoyment in things that you previously enjoyed.
  • Blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong (even when it’s clearly not your fault).
  • Being anxious or worried for no apparent reason.
  • Being scared or panicky for no good reason.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Having trouble sleeping (or sleeping all the time).
  • Change in your eating habits.
  • Crying a lot.
  • Feeling sad most of the time.
  • Feeling irritable and lacking patience.

So now you know the symptoms of postnatal depression but what does it really mean to you?

How do you know you are suffering from Postnatal Depression?  What might you be thinking and feeling?



Some common things that we tell ourselves when we are suffering from PND, which in turn often stop us from getting help early, are:

  • “I should be able to do this!”
  • “What is wrong with me?”
  • “What did I do to get the broken baby?”
  • “If I admit I’m not coping I will let my mother/partner down!”
  • “I don’t want anyone to think badly of me!”
  • “Will they take my baby away from me?”
  • “I’m a useless mother”
  • “My baby would be better off with someone else!”
  • “I’m a terrible mother and can’t do anything right”
  • “How can they not see I’m struggling?”
  • “It isn’t meant to be like this!”
  • “Is my mask in place?  Will they see through it today?”

Do any of those ring a bell for you?

These thoughts really affect how we are feeling as well and the one feeling that surfaces most is likely to be guilt.

Guilt that you can’t cope, guilt that you aren’t happy at what should be a great time and guilt that you feel you are not giving your baby a good start in life.

You may also be feeling sadness as the journey isn’t living up to expectations and could be feeling totally alone in your struggle.

The thing about these feelings is they are, so often, internal and hidden away. No one sees that behind that mask of a smiling, joking mum we are sad and broken inside.

If you are nodding your head to any of the above listed symptoms, thoughts or feelings and the experience has been going on for more than two weeks, there is a possibility you could be suffering postnatal depression so please go and check in with your medical practitioner.

In addition to the visit to your doctor there are lots of things you can do to help yourself through postnatal depression and onto the road to recovery.

  • Find a support group. Either in person or via Facebook. You are not alone and knowing and connecting with women who are in the same boat as you will help ease the burden.
  • Keep a journal of the little things in life that you enjoy.
  • Let people in.  Opening up to those you care about can be scary, they might not know there is anything wrong (your mask is working) as soon as they find out they will want to help you get better.
  • Get outside.  A gentle walk with bub in a carrier or just sitting in the garden all helps.
  • Meditate.  A calm mind enables you to look beyond those negative thoughts and focus on what baby needs.
  • Play with baby.  I know that it is hard if you feel disconnected from baby and that makes it so much more rewarding as you build your connection to them and create happy memories.
  • Get your hands busy.  If you are crafty pick it up again while baby naps. Getting your hands busy is a form of meditation and can calm an overactive mind. If you are not crafty get some adult colouring books, one of the most therapeutic activities I know.

Taking the first step of talking to someone, anyone, about how you are feeling is always the hardest. In fact by Googling postnatal depression you are already a little closer to taking that step and that’s great.

You are not alone in feeling like this and you will not be alone on your journey to recovery. Reach out and you will find support. It is waiting for you!

Have you ever experienced post natal depression? How did you get through it? Please SHARE in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • im on antidepressants but more from other family stresses

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  • i did and i had a support group that focused on PND only, we had a group of mums who were all in different stages of PND and experiences. we were a group of 8 mums and still we catch up a year later as we all know how tough its been and can openly talk about anything and know that we will not be judged. understand that the professionals just want to help you and if you say that you are not coping or you feel like harming yourself or your child they know that and they do not see you as a danger but as a person going through a tough time with a real life illness, they need you to be honest so they can help you correctly. ive shaken my 3 year old in anger, ive smacked her a few times also and i even hated my new born baby for a good six months, its all part of the illness and i still have my babies because i admit im not perfect, i admit i cannot cope and i ask for help, I still get help and my daughter is 18 months old now, its a long haul but if you find the right person or group and you realise that how you feel is ok as long as you never act on the dangerous thoughts then your doing great.
    Good luck to any mums suffering this dark time. xx

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  • Great read.

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  • great read loved the story

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  • I had it bad and my psych just wanted to keep trying different medications. It wasn’t making me feel better so I chose the to not take all the new meds. I’m currently trying to get thru naturally eg exercise helps a lot!!


    • I know there are many natural therapies that will help you get through it, as you have chosen to proceed without medication. Check out the Happiness for Mums 7 Day guide on my website for 7 other ways to help you through. (It is free!) http://www.parentacademy.com.au

    Reply

  • I had depression for sure, 3 kids in 4 years, i fought through the fog, lost the husband in the fog, and then suddenly after i left him it was all clear.

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  • Things do also get better over time once medication and therapy start!

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  • Very good advice.

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  • A great article that will help many new Mums.

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  • I think I had a mild case. I actually hid it from everyone and just carried on myself. Luckily I got better.

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  • I had to fill out a postnatal depression test before and after the birth of the baby. I was too embarrassed to tell the Dr that I wasn’t coping too well and just gave the answers that I knew they would want to hear (how many times did you ____ in the last 7 days, my answer was always never)


    • I trust you were able to get help. Embarrassment is a feeling that no one with a mental health issue should feel and yet it seems to be quite high up there. Thank you for sharing your experience.



      • I have done this too – given responses in forms that were a total lie but I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me or thinking I couldn’t do it. Embarrassment and denial were very strong.

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  • I should have been a candidate my life was so stressful with my first and nothing was perfect luckly I was able to push on through it

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  • This is a great article. I think this information should be more widely given or talking about what to look out for at parenting classes.


    • I know Caroline :). I am on a mission to make it more available through hospital run antenatal classes, it may take some time.

    Reply

  • Being a first time mum I thought most of the thoughts I was having we’re normal until I spoke to someone about how them. I now talk to my partner more and have bonded with my little princess more. Counselling, having me time, family time and just mum and Bub time has really helped.

    Reply

  • I was more overcome with the anxiety side of it.

    Reply

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