What to do when you’re battling postnatal depression (and pregnancy and birth isn’t joyful)

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Have you found yourself more depressed than happy in the whole pregnancy and birth process? 

Maybe you’ve heard about happy hormones but didn’t seem to get your share?

Do you feel alone, scared and unsupported

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s possible that you may be suffering from prenatal (yes it can happen during pregnancy too) or postnatal depression.

When your pregnancy plan doesn’t work out

Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan, no matter how carefully you drew up your birth plan and did your research. The literature on this topic shows that up to 8 percent of all births are complicated in a medical way, and 10 – 20 percent of women suffer from depression afterwards. That’s a lot!

So if you’re expecting, or you’re a new mom, or even if you’re just thinking of trying, read this article. It could make an important difference in what can become a very scary time in your life. 

It’s never easy to have kids

My clients tell me that whether you go natural, partly assisted or c-section, there is no easy option. Your body no longer belongs to you – complete strangers prod your most intimate areas. There’s pain before, during and after. It can all be quite chaotic and your body never bounces back completely.  

The responsibility may feel overwhelming 

Becoming a mother may also stir up some old pain and you might feel overwhelmed by all the responsibility. Breastfeeding is a nightmare for lots of women, too. And babies cry a lot. Maybe you’re the one crying a lot. Or both of you!

Your family and your doctor might dismiss your sadness as “baby blues”, but if it lasts longer than a couple of weeks (max), it’s probably not going to go away by itself. If you don’t feel able to cope, you need to take your postnatal depression seriously.  

Signs of postnatal depression:

Indications that you might be dealing with a postnatal depression range from fairly mild to totally incapacitating. Look out for these signs:

  • Being miserable, sad and tearful more often than not
  • Moodiness, which can swing from irritation to tears
  • Being tense and anxious
  • Dark thoughts
  • Tiredness and listlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Less interest in things you used to enjoy
  • The kind of guilt that just won’t go away
  • Eating too much or too little

For a full list, see here, but even if you only have some of these feelings, you might be experiencing more than just the difficulty of adjusting to motherhood. You could have PND. Even if it’s not full-blown PND, you need help and support

Postnatal depression can affect others

PND can have a far-reaching impact. It can affect fathers and partners too. Interestingly, PND might only appear after a second or even third birth. It doesn’t necessarily happen immediately after birth either. It can happen well before or much later. Even adoptive parents can experience PND.

Blue-footed Booby Success Formula: What to do when you’re battling postnatal depression 

  1. Join a group – check out new parent or mom’s groups in your area. Meeting other moms going through similar experiences might be what you need to get through this
  2. Check the list above and take yourself seriously! Postnatal depression is treatable but it doesn’t go away on its own. Consult your gynae or even your GP to discuss possible meds, and don’t let them fob you off
  3. See a licensed mental health professional, like a psychologist, and talk it through.

 If you’ve had some success battling PND on your own, or taken the advice in this article, give us a whistle and let us know how you did it!

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