I suffered terribly from post natal depression after my first baby was born six years ago. I am now seven months pregnant and am worried I will fall back into depression post natally. What can I do to help ensure that won't happen.
Post natal depression is such a difficult time. I often talk about post natal depression with my friends who are GP’s and we all feel based on our experience with many women, that the cause of post natal depression (PND) has a few factors that all contribute.
One being “ lack of support” for a new mum, our families are not usually in the same town or city anymore, as they once where. Often they were even in the same street, however we are now spread far and wide due to technology, ease of transport and jobs. Often Dad’s are lucky to have a few weeks off work when your baby is born and then they are back at their jobs. Today this is likely to be a job that has long working hours. So new mums after the first few weeks are then on their own. If you can, having help at home, friends, family or paid will be ideal.
We all agree also that “lack of sleep” and extreme “sleep deprivation” affects your body in a vast number of ways, including stress, lack of concentration, teariness, exhaustion, weak immune system, just to name some. Sleep alone, or should I say, lack of sleep, I believe can cause post natal depression symptoms on its own. Fix the extreme sleep deprivation and often the symptoms of post natal depression disappear.
Change in lifestyle – this can be the change from working and having a life centred on work, to then a life centred around a baby and staying around the house. Often mums struggle with how to set a new and different routine with a baby up, and get themselves out of the house regularly. Sometimes it just becomes so hard to leave the house that it is easier to stay at home. Or if you have ventured out and it hasn’t gone well, your baby has cried and cried, you wish you hadn’t gone and vow never to take your baby out again. Despite difficult days, you must leave the house every day or every second day and build a life around a home routine. This often means over time find a new group of friends as your friends are often in a working life routine.
Lastly your body has gone through some enormous physical changes throughout pregnancy, birth and then feeding your baby. Often this is not our only role as a mother. We are usually balancing multiple roles, in indigenous cultures and other cultures worldwide, a mother would just feed and be with her baby for months after birth. Other family members would take on the duties of cooking the meals, cleaning the house, looking after older children and all other household duties. Today in our culture a woman continues to do all these roles as well as be a mother. Exhaustion also takes its toll. So accept all offers of help, whether it be to drop or pick up older children or to look after them for a few hours, it may be to post some letters for you, pick up some groceries, hang out a load of washing. Accept all and ask for help if you need it. There are no badges for doing it on your own! Be sure also to eat well to nourish your body.