Many women struggle after having a baby with intense hormone changes, emotions and mood swings. It is a common belief that having a baby is a magical time for all mothers and that the maternal feelings will kick in as soon as the baby is born and that the mother will know all the knowledge she needs. This is not the case for many women. Some women may feel anxious, sad or feel they are unable to look after themselves or the baby. 1 in 10 new mothers experience postpartum depression and friends and family need to be able to recognise it in new mothers.
Signs And Symptoms
- Feeling empty, sad, or what to do when overwhelmed
- Feeling irritable or moody
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Having difficulty with memory and concentration
- Having difficulty making decisions
- Not enjoying activities you once enjoyed
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Feeling like you are unable to care for your baby
Some women may be more at risk of suffering from postpartum depression if they have a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder. Also, if there is a lack of support from family or friends. Other triggers of postpartum depression can be if the mother has had problems during a previous pregnancy/birth, if there are relationships or money issues and if there has been alcoholism or drug problems. If the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted, or if the baby has special needs, can also be triggers for a mother to suffer from postpartum depression.
Ways To Prevent Postpartum Depression
- There are things that you can do to help try to prevent postpartum depression, especially if you are a mother who is at risk of suffering from it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while pregnant, and having someone who you can talk to or turn to for support are a big help.
- Going to antenatal classes, or baby classes, where you can meet other pregnant women and new mums can be a great way to help settle anxiety and worries.
- Throughout your pregnancy (or whilst trying to conceive) to your doctor or midwife, especially if you are at risk of suffering from postpartum depression, will enable them to answer your questions and point you in the right direction of the appropriate services if needed.
Treatment For Postpartum Depression
Suffering from postpartum depression can be difficult, lonely and frightening. But there is lots of support and effective treatment out there for women who are suffering.
There are lots of things that you can do yourself if you are suffering from postpartum depression such as talking to friends and family about how you are feeling and what help you need. Try to make time for yourself and the things you enjoy. Although it is hard with a new baby, do try to get as much sleep as you can, exercise and eat a balanced diet.
Speak to your GP about any talking therapies or courses such as CBT that you can go on to help manage your thoughts and feelings.
These may be recommended by your GP if the depression is very severe, or if you have tried other therapies and they have not worked. Some medications are safe to take while breastfeeding so make sure you talk to your doctor.
3 Myths About Postpartum Depression
- It is caused by hormone changes. This is incorrect as it is actually caused by lots of different factors all added together.
- Postpartum depression is less severe than other depressions. Postpartum depression is just as serious as other types of depression
- Postpartum depression will pass. This is not true. Unlike the “baby blues”, postpartum depression will persist for months and if left untreated can cause long term effects.
Some women don’t tell anyone about their symptoms as they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about feeling depressed when they are “supposed to be happy”. They may also worry they will be seen as bad mothers. Any woman can become depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mum and you and your baby do not have to suffer. There is help and you should not be ashamed or worried about reaching out for it.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT are qualified in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, some are also Psychologists. Offering evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.