Maternal Mental Health
Today is World Mental Health Day and the perfect time to highlight postnatal depression. PND affects between 10 – 15 in every 100 women. This is quite an astonishing number. Some women may have experienced mental health issues in the past such as depression and anxiety but some may never have suffered with any kind of mental health matter. It can be triggered by a bad birth experience, bereavement, lack of support, poor relationship with a partner but it does not necessarily have to be caused by anything apparent.
Having a baby is such a life changing event and many mothers suffer with ‘baby blues’ in the first 2 weeks after birth. This is thought to be triggered due to hormonal changes. Symptoms of the baby blues include feeling close to tears frequently, anxious and loss of appetite. Commonly, the baby blues does not persist for more than 2 weeks.
In contrast, PND can last for weeks, months or can occasionally be still present past baby’s first year. The symptoms of postnatal depression include a persistent low mood or sadness, feeling tired all of the time, not being able to sleep even when baby does, loss of appetite and difficulty bonding with your baby.
As one of the common symptoms of PND is difficulty in bonding with your baby, baby massage and baby yoga can help overcome this. This is because of the release of oxytocin (the love hormone) which helps parent and baby bond, the improved communication and gives parents more confidence in handling their babies. Also attending social groups can help improve the parent’s confidence and provides a support network.
If you feel that you are suffering with postnatal depression it is important that you speak to family or friends and seek help from your GP or health visitor. The health professionals will not judge you but will be able to provide you with self-help techniques or treatment that can help you during this very difficult time.
I am very passionate about supporting mums and invite parents who feel they maybe struggling with PND to speak with me in confidence if a listening ear is required. The Association for Postnatal Illness (APNI) is a national charity that provides help for mums suffering with postnatal illnesses. Their website is https://apni.org . Their helpline is 0207 386 0868 which is open 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday.
Please remember; you are not alone.