You may find that you need extra help and support after the birth of your baby. It helps if you know what to expect - and where to find the information you need. Here’s a lowdown on everything you need to know about postnatal health and depression.
- Postnatal Depression (PND) is actually quite common. It affects about 15% of new mothers, but many more feel tired, low, occasionally distressed, isolated and lonely.
- It usually starts about three weeks or so after the birth.
- Isolation does seem to be part of postnatal health and depression. It can be hard to get out and about and to stay in touch with friends when you have a new baby. Or when you do get out, everyone seems to be coping better than you are - and you feel even worse than before.
- It could be that guilt and disappointment are part of depression. You may feel bad because you don't think you love your baby as much as you feel you should. Or you thought being a mum would be wonderful - and it just isn't.
- Some experts think the cause might be connected with your changing hormones.
These are some of the feelings you might have if you have postnatal depression:
- You wake up feeling exhausted, every day, even after sleeping for enough no. of hours.
- You find it hard to concentrate on something, or organise yourself, or other simple tasks.
- You feel like you’re a failure as a mother.
- You can't feel much, as if experiences are happening to someone else.
- You find yourself feeling tearful, and sometimes weeping, and you aren't sure why.
- You lose track of time, and find hours go by and you can't be sure what you've been doing.
You need help if you have any of these postnatal symptoms often enough to worry you. Everyone feels tired, sad and a bit weepy from time to time - but if the frequency is high for you, then you may have postnatal depression.
Help is available.
- Your doctor may prescribe anti-depressants, or refer you to other forms of help.
- Your partner, friends and family can also help and support you. You don't need to hide how bad you feel as you deserve a lot of support at this time.
- A counsellor or psychotherapist (via your doctor) can also help you in such a situation.
The important point is that PND is curable - with, of course, the right help. Your baby needs you to feel okay too. Long-term, postnatal depression has been shown to have an effect on babies' development and learning. Don't confuse postnatal depression with the 'baby blues' some women have after birth for no more than a few days.
About one new mum in every 500, has a severe form of postnatal health illness called puerperal psychosis. This means she may have hallucinations, or stay awake for days, or be extremely 'high' and energetic. It's always obvious to the people around the mum that something's not right. This form of illness is not postnatal depression, and it needs immediate medical help. Some women may need to be in the hospital for the right sort of help.
Return of your period
- If you are not breastfeeding, your period usually returns 4-8 weeks after the birth.
- If you are fully breastfeeding with no supplementary feeds, likely, you’ll not get your period until you have started to reduce the number of feeds your baby is having. This is not a rule and some women find their period to have returned quite quickly.
- Although you may not have had a period, it is still possible to ovulate and become pregnant before you start menstruating again. Make sure you consider your contraception method if you are not ready for another baby.
- It is not uncommon for a woman's menstrual cycle to change after childbirth. Many women report heavier bleeding, while others say their period is lighter and doesn't last as long.
- Your cycle may be irregular at first, as ovulation may be erratic. It is an individual response and will probably differ in every case.
- If you are concerned about the amount of blood you pass while menstruating, seek advice from your doctor.