Pre- and post-natal depression and/or anxiety can impact the early parenting experience in lasting ways. Approximately 1 in 7 women will experience PND (Post Natal Depression) and research has revealed that PND can happen to fathers too. It is now recognised that PND can be present in the ante-natal period (pregnancy). The sooner either parent seeks assistance the better the outcome for all, although it's never too late. What causes Post Natal Depression? Most women will get teary a few days after the birth of a baby when their hormones suddenly change. This is normal and will pass when the major hormonal readjustment has calmed down. Then the new mother must adjust to the many changes a new baby brings. Why any woman gets Post Natal Depression depends on several factors:
Sleep deprivation can be a huge shock to many, especially to women who needed 8-9 hours prior to being pregnant.
Biochemical changes can trigger an imbalance in neurotransmitters that can manifest in symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The mother has massively increased demands on her time, energy and body.
Breastfeeding doesn't always go as expected.
Lack of support for the new mother amplify the effect of increased demands.
Sometimes mum is an 'A-type' who wants to flip back to being super energetic, organised woman. This can lead to depletion of resources.
Believing that other mothers have it all together and by comparison you or your baby are not up to par
Feelings of being overwhelmed or being inadequate can take over and lead to excessive worry.
"Am I doing this right?" "What am I doing wrong that my baby won't sleep?" can lead to feeling guilty or resentful.
Body image issues can certainly manifest as the woman realises her body is not going to ping back to its pre-baby shape.
Sometimes it was the birth itself that was traumatic or did not turn out how the mother imagined it.
If the mother has any personal or family history of depression or anxiety, symptoms can manifest now due to the stress of parenting.
Past and often very unaware issues with the new mother's own childhood can be triggered by the experience of becoming a parent.
Women need to know they are not to blame for how they feel and it doesn't mean they are a bad parent or a lesser person. The whole physiological process of baby making and caring is enormous. Post natal depression is real, recognised, and very significant. The sooner it is treated the better for all, especially your baby.
If you are feeling down for an ongoing period, then please seek help. If you have had bad thoughts about your baby and fear what you might do, please contact your doctor or child health nurse as soon as possible.
Relationship issues in the post-baby period can occur for many reasons so ideally your partner will attend sessions with you so both of you can work on the adjustment to a new baby and any relationship issues that have arisen. It is important you both understand what is happening and knows how best to manage at this time. It is now recognised that men experience some form of post natal depression also. PND in the mother can bewildering for the father, who is likely going through his own adjustment period. Dads are in the best position to support mum, especially in the absence of family help.
Relationship problems can arise when a new baby comes along due to the transition from being a couple to a trio. It's a fertile time for arguments over housework and sex and problems with in-laws can also flare up. The post baby period, especially between 6 weeks to 4 months is a time where big arguments can happen between couples. Sometimes things pass and others times this can be a sign of something more significant going on.
Counselling might help you
Sort through the new responsibility of life with a new baby
Deal with strong emotions without feeling overwhelmed
Learn how to support each other at this important time
As a parent herself Clarissa understands the complexity of new born parenting from the inside-out augmenting her professional training and psychotherapeutic skills. Previously Clarissa was a breast-feeding counsellor with the nursing mothers association (now Breastfeeding Australia) where she educated and supported new mothers and facilitated groups. Post Natal Depression counselling with a doctors referral will qualify for the medicare subsidy to help with session fees.