|What is PND (post natal depression) anyway?|
|Written by Jane|
|Friday, 25 May 2007|
You want to enjoy your baby but you just don't feel up to it. You’re tired all the time, still feeling physically challenged and just can't seem to get things done. Is this normal?For most women the physical effort involved in having a baby is enormous. Even a short labour with no tearing takes at least a couple of months to recover physically from. When you add to that vaginal or caesarean wounds and stitches, most women need to take it easy and nurse themselves as well as their baby. Add to that a newborn, who often cries for a feed - maybe every 2 hours, and the huge shift in hormones which takes you from elation to crying in a breath and of course you’re feeling vulnerable, sore and tired.
For the first two to three months your body is still in recovery mode. While some women bounce back quickly others take more time and as many as 80% of new mothers get ‘the baby blues’. The key to getting through this period is to take it easy, focus on what needs to be done, prioritise your sleep and take every offer of help you get. For more ideas, see Staying happy with a new baby.
If you feel your reactions are not normal, unlike your usual behaviour and worry you, then you should investigate whether you could have post natal depression. Post natal depression can manifest immediately or months after the birth of your baby or after your second baby when you didn’t have it with your first.
Depression can manifest in so many ways. You could be manic, insomniac, crying all the time, angry and frustrated. You might want to do a million things but not be able to think straight about any of them. Some of the most obvious ways you might be able to inform yourself is whether you feel empty, isolated, like everything you do has no value, whether you are sad, have no pleasure in your normal activities. The most obvious symptom is crying every day, but that is not always present. Another symptom is whether you want to spend time with your child, or if you are so concentrated on keeping things going you don’t (or don’t want to) spend time with your baby. If any of these sound like you, then don’t despair, get help.
Your maternal health nurse is a good place to start. Discuss how you are feeling and see if she can help you to identify what is happening. She will have local resources which can lead you to sympathetic doctors.
Take a look at www.BeyondBlue.org.au , which is a website with many resources for depression sufferers and it has a section on ‘the baby blues’. If you are worried about whether you might be overreacting, you can take their test to help your own diagnosis.
Getting help does not need to be scary, but it is really important to start as soon as you can. Many hospitals have support groups attached and run sessions where women who feel the same way meet and discuss. You may not need anti-depressive medicine but might benefit from talking therapy with a clinical psychologist. Sometimes your symptoms will prevent you from being able to appreciate the therapy and absorbing the information to make the changes you need. If so, there are medications which are prescribed for breast feeding mothers.
The most important thing to remember is that you are the universe to your child. He or she depends on your well being for every little thing, from feeds to clean nappies and a whole world of experiences. Without you, your child is lost.
The question you have to ask is what kind of world do you provide for yourself and your child? Your goal should be to make that world one in which you can enjoy being a parent. By being happy you will free yourself to relish this precious phase of life and delight in your happy bub.
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