becoming a parent is one of the greatest things in life, but it can also be one of the scariest! the uncertainty of what parenthood will bring can spook anyone, but we hope to calm those nerves with a little advice from the experts.
Becoming a parent can be a time of great excitement and joy. However, it is also a time of significant change and adjustment for the whole family. It is normal for new mothers (and fathers) to feel overwhelmed because many life changes are happening in such a short space of time.
As a result, It’s common to feel overwhelmed, tearful and low for a few days after your baby is born — this is sometimes called the ‘baby blues’. Baby blues usually start two or three days after your baby is born and are over within two weeks. But postnatal depression is more than the baby blues.
Unlike the baby blues, postnatal depression rarely disappears on its own. The condition can occur days or even months following the birth of your child and last for many weeks or months without treatment.
What is Postnatal Depression?
Postnatal depression is a type of depression which affects more than one in ten women after having a baby. At a time when everyone expects you to be feeling happy, you may be feeling very low. But with the right help and support, postnatal depression can be treated successfully.
The symptoms are similar to those in depression at other times. These include low mood and other symptoms lasting at least two weeks. Depending on the severity, you may struggle to look after yourself and your baby. You may find simple tasks difficult to manage.
Postnatal depression is an illness that can happen to anyone and it’s not your fault. It’s crucial to get help quickly from your midwife or GP if you think you might be depressed. This is because postnatal depression can seriously affect you, your baby and your family. There are successful treatments that will help you feel better.
What Causes Postnatal Depression?
It’s not known precisely what causes postnatal depression.
A commonly held myth is that it’s purely linked to changes in the levels of pregnancy hormones. In reality, though, it is a complex condition and experts believe there are many other physical and emotional factors involved.
Keep in mind that it can seem to start for no reason at all, and it’s also possible to have some or all of the problems or risk factors below without developing postnatal depression. Some of the potential risk factors include a history of mental health problems, lack of a support network, recent stressful events, physical causes, and having twins.
What are the Symptoms of Postnatal Depression?
Unfortunately, women, their families, and sometimes even health professionals, don’t spot that a new mum has postnatal depression, so many women end up waiting much longer than they should before they get treatment.
There are many reasons for this. For example, some women often wrongly assume their symptoms are a normal part of adjusting to having a new baby, causing them to brush their feelings off as the ‘baby blues’ instead of getting support. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of postnatal depression, to look out for:
- Poor sleep – it’s very common to have poor sleep with a new baby, but in postnatal depression, you may not be able to sleep even when your baby is asleep.
- Excessive fatigue and low energy – again, this is common when you have a baby, but can be debilitating when you have postnatal depression.
- Persistent sadness and low mood – which can be overwhelming and can affect your ability to function.
- Loss of interest and enjoyment in things that were once important to you – you may not want to do things that used to give you pleasure, and you may not enjoy spending time with your new baby.
- Irritability – finding that you are becoming angry more easily, and ‘snapping’ at people for no reason.
- Negative thoughts – it’s common in postnatal depression to think you’re a bad mother or your baby won’t love you. You may also doubt your ability to cope with having a baby, and convince yourself that other people are judging you.
- Guilty thoughts – you may feel guilty that you’re not happy and excited, and think this is your fault, even though it isn’t.
- Self-neglect – if you have severe postnatal depression, this may prevent you from looking after yourself. You may not eat well, take care of your appearance or personal hygiene and find it hard to get out of bed and manage usually easy daily activities.
- Hopelessness – it may seem that things will never get better or that life is not worth living.
- Suicidal thoughts and self-harm – you may think about ways to harm yourself. These thoughts are common in depression, and not everyone acts on them. It’s essential to seek help if you have an urge to harm yourself.
<H2> Treatments For Postnatal Depression
You may find that treatment for postnatal depression takes a bit longer than you expected. For most parents, it usually lasts about three to six months, but for some, it may be a year or longer.
The type of help and treatment you need will depend on how severe your postnatal depression is and if you’ve had depression before. Your GP or health visitor can explain what help and support are available, and together you can make a decision that’s right for you.
There are many things you can do to help yourself cope with postnatal depression. Here are some suggestions talk to your partner, friends or family about your feelings and how they can help you, sleep or rest whenever you can, find local groups for new parents. Ask someone to go with you if you find it difficult at first and get some regular exercise.
The most important thing is to be kind to yourself — you’re going through a tough time. And try not to blame others or take it out on your partner and family who support you.
Talking therapies can be used to treat mild or moderate postnatal depression. An example is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT looks at how you think about a situation, how you act and how these things can affect each other. You will work with a therapist to change the way you think about things and how you behave.
If you have severe postnatal depression, your doctor may prescribe antidepressant medicines. Alternatively, you can request these medicines if you think you have severe or moderate depression. Your GP may offer antidepressants if you have mild or moderate depression and other treatments haven’t worked for you. You can have talking therapies at the same time as taking antidepressants.
Some antidepressants take at least two weeks to start working and you may need to take them for several months. To help prevent your postnatal depression returning, your doctor may advise you to keep taking them for some time once you start to feel better.
If you’re breastfeeding, let your doctor know. Small amounts of the medicine can be passed on to your baby through your breast milk. Some antidepressants are thought to be safer for your baby than others. Your doctor will advise which medicines are best to take while you’re breastfeeding.
Further Help and Support
Postnatal depression can make the already stressful period immediately following childbirth even more difficult. The sooner you can get help with managing your depression, the sooner you can begin to enjoy your baby and motherhood.
You might find attending one of NCT’s Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
You can also contact specialist organisations like PANDAS for more help and support with postnatal depression.At CuddleCo, our experts have been supporting new parents for over 30 years, providing them with high-quality nursery furniture and baby products designed to last, to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with looking after a baby. Shop our range now for free shipping on all orders over £50.
Being a new parent is stressful at the best of times.
It is perfectly normal to feel anxious or stressed after having a baby, as you find ways of adjusting to your new situation. Approximately 68% of women and 57% of men with mental health problems in the UK are parents, highlighting the correlation between having children and mental health issues. Many new parents feel exhausted from lack of sleep at this stage, making it even harder to cope with the changes in your lifestyle. It takes time for women, couples and families to adjust to a new baby.
There are many normal worries around at this time. For example, it is common for new mothers to feel anxious about things like their baby’s health, whether they are being a good enough parent and worries about being separated from their child. Though given time, things should start to get easier as you begin to feel more confident in your new role as a parent.
That being said, if your level of anxiety persists and seems to be more than just the usual worries, you experience frequent symptoms of anxiety in situations that should not normally be anxiety-provoking, or if your anxiety is significantly affecting your day-to-day life, then you may be suffering from postnatal anxiety.
What Is Postnatal Anxiety?
Many people are aware that you can become depressed after having a baby, but many people also experience anxiety during pregnancy and after giving birth. For some new mothers, the worry associated with becoming a parent gets overwhelming, and they’re diagnosed with postnatal anxiety.
Postnatal anxiety affects just about as many new moms as postnatal depression does — and can be just as debilitating — but the condition isn't talked about as much. It refers to an irrational fear or exaggerated worry that something is wrong and usually involves worrying all day, every day, and about many different things. It's similar to regular anxiety but is more closely linked with having a baby and becoming a parent.
Postnatal Depression vs Postnatal Anxiety
Both anxiety and depression are more common after the birth of a baby. Combined with the normal challenges of lack of sleep and feeling overwhelmed by being a new parent, you might feel unable to cope. Many new mums are told that sadness and depression are common after having a baby. These feelings can turn out to be either the baby blues or postnatal depression.
But not every new mum knows that feeling extremely anxious or fearful, or even having panic attacks, can be almost as common. In one study that looked at 4,451 women who had recently given birth, 18% self-reported symptoms related to anxiety. (That’s huge — and a significant reminder that you’re not alone in this.) Of those, 35% also had symptoms of postnatal depression.
These examples show that you can certainly have postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety at the same time — but you may also have one without the other. So, how do you tell them apart?
Postnatal depression is characterised by feelings of sadness, irritability, tearfulness, appetite changes, and sleep disturbance. But what we have learned over time is that many women with what we typically call “postnatal depression” also have significant anxiety symptoms.
Postnatal anxiety most commonly takes the form of generalised anxiety, persistent and excessive worries, feelings of tension, and inability to relax. Often these worries are focused on the baby and his or her health and safety. Other symptoms include being constantly worried that something bad will happen, not being able to sleep, obsessively trying to control things, such as repeatedly checking on your baby — or having visions of something terrible happening to the child.
If you think you may be experiencing either of these issues, it’s important to seek help as quickly as possible so you can get back to enjoying your new baby.
How Long Does Anxiety Last after Having a Baby?
There's no definitive timeframe for postpartum anxiety, but the good news is that it isn’t permanent. Depending on how soon you get treatment, recovery time can vary. However, be aware that untreated moderate to severe anxiety can last indefinitely.
Postnatal Anxiety Treatment
Suffering from an anxiety condition is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
With the right treatment, you can recover from postpartum anxiety and bond with your sweet little one. You may be tempted to put off treatment due to thinking your anxiety will go away when your tot hits the next milestone. But the truth is, anxiety can snowball quickly rather than resolve itself.
You should call your doctor at the first signs of excessive worry, fear or dread after having a baby. If you're feeling overwhelmed, overly worried, panicked or feel like you’re losing control — or if you experience any of the symptoms of postnatal depression, anxiety, OCD or PTSD — tell your doctor or midwife support as soon as possible. They can help screen you for a postnatal mood disorder and refer you to a mental health care professional who has experience treating new parents. Just don’t suffer alone — asking for help is the first step to recovery and the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby.
Mild to moderate postnatal anxiety can be treated with talk or cognitive behavioural therapy, along with techniques such as meditation, relaxation exercises and mindfulness training. Talking to a supportive friend or family member can be enough to help a new parent with mild anxiety.
Moderate to severe cases are usually treated with therapy and medication, most often a course of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to help alleviate excessive worry, fear or dread after having a baby.
No matter how mild or severe your symptoms it’s vitally important that you don’t suffer alone — asking for help is the first step to recovery and the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby.At CuddleCo, our experts have been supporting new parents for over 30 years, providing them with high-quality nursery furniture and baby products designed to last, to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with looking after a baby. Shop our range now for free shipping on all orders over £50.
check out our top articles
Nursery Checklist: The Nursery Furniture Essentials You Need
You won’t be surprised to learn that having a baby comes with a lot of new “stuff” that you never needed previously. But it can be hard to work o...read more