The birth of a baby is expected to be a happy and special time for the new mother and her family. However, for many women it is stressful, often mixed with confusion, anxiety and sadness.
The constant demands of a baby often cause fatigue and new mums can feel overwhelmed by the total responsibility for a baby's care. Many ask 'If motherhood is bliss, why do I feel so awful?
'The 'baby blues'
Up to 80% of new mums suffer briefly from 'the blues' in the first week after childbirth. They may feel teary, depressed, emotional and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. These symptoms usually go away without treatment by the tenth day.
Postnatal depression (PND)
This serious condition affects at least one in ten women in the first twelve months after childbirth. Symptoms of PND can be severe and often persist for many months, or even years. Tick the boxes in the following list to see if you may have PND:
- Feeling sad, miserable or teary
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Feeling unable to cope
- Loss of interest in your normal activities
- Feeling scared or panicky
- Loss of confidence or self-esteem
- Difficulty sleeping due to being unhappy
- Loss of appetite
- Blaming yourself, feeling guilty
- Thoughts of harming yourself
Left untreated, PND can be harmful for your baby and other children and can cause considerable marital stress. Early treatment can make a big difference and consists of counselling, support groups and relaxation training. Antidepressant medication can be very effective for more severe cases.
Remember, you are not alone! Speak to your doctor if you think you may have PND, or visit www.health.gov.au/nhmrc/publicat/synopses/wh29syn.htm for more info.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.