Pregnancy and motherhood can be two of the most joyful times in a woman’s life – but what if it’s not?
Experiencing depression before, or after the birth of a baby is not unusual … you are not alone.
An estimated 15 to 20% of new mothers are affected by perinatal depression, an umbrella term that includes forms of prenatal and postpartum depression.
Perinatal depression is more than the “baby blues” (which tend to occur during the first two weeks after delivery) and refers to the period when symptoms appear anytime during pregnancy or within four weeks of delivery. In fact, more recently some professionals have expanded the time period of perinatal depression to include the full twelve months following delivery. So, in other words, perinatal depression can occur any time from becoming pregnant, to around one year after giving birth.
Women’s health during pregnancy often focuses on the basics for a healthy pregnancy, like regular doctor’s visits, a nutritious diet, and plenty of rest. But growing and welcoming a new baby can be overwhelming.
Remember, many of these are also symptoms of having a new-born in the house, so it’s important to consider how intense your symptoms are, and whether they’ve lasted for more than two weeks.
Other less common, but also important symptoms include:
The prevalence of perinatal depression is high and the adverse effects on mothers as well as infants are extensive.
During the perinatal period, many biochemical and anatomical changes occur in the mother’s body. These changes can lead to depression which are harmful to the physical and mental health of the expecting or new mama.
The children born to perinatal depressed mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and to develop cognitive and socio-emotional developmental problems, such as cognitive delay, negative temperament, oppositional behaviour and attention deficit symptoms.
Experiencing perinatal depression can be very difficult, so ask for, and accept help when you need it. Be kind to yourself and speak to people with similar experiences – there are plenty of support groups available to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences with.
Good luck on this amazing journey!
Source: irishtimes.com, healthychildren.org, verywellmind.com, womenshealthmag.com, frontiersin.org, zerotothree.org, beyondblue.org, mind.org.uk, health.qld.gov.au
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.