Post-natal Depression
Post-natal Depression

PND is an illness that can result from having a baby. It can last between 3 months to a year, and if unrecognised, can continue into the second year. It is quite common for women to experience 'Baby Blues' the second or third day after giving birth, for about a week. If it lasts longer you should visit your GP.

Some women feel a sense of failure if they do not experience a great rush of love for their newborn immediately. This does not happen straight away for every women; it can come in a few minutes or in a few hours. PND can develop after pregnancy up to six months after childbirth, and affects about 20 per cent of women in Ireland every year. You are more susceptible to PND if there is a history of clinical depression in your family, so you just need to be aware of this. A life-changing event during pregnancy can also trigger it, for example, moving house, a death in the family, losing your job etc. Sometimes PND can be triggered by a bad birthing experience, for example when an emergency occurs which forces diversion from the mother's intended birth plan.

If you are suffering from PND you should inform your doctor and public health nurse. You may be encourage to go on antidepressants which some women dread, but you should see improvement in a week to ten days.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Crying for no particular reason
  • tiredness/weariness
  • feelings of uselessness
  • afraid to be left alone with the baby
  • trouble sleeping despite being exhausted.
  • Lack of interest in yourself or your baby
  • Unable to cope with small things, finding everything to be an effort
  • Racing negative talks that you can't stop
  • no interest in food or over-eating
  • feelings of panic or anxiety, not being able to relax, feelings of hopelessness
  • feelings angry, rejected or confused
  • inability to concentrate
  • marked over-activity or under-activity is common
  • lack of interest in sex
  • obsessed with baby, not wanting anyone else to hold or mind the baby
  • Puerperal Psychosis – mum is hight, doing thins out of the ordinary, and having hallucinations

Things you can do to help a  partner suffering from PND: Be patient, supportive and encouraging encourage her to talk about how she is feeling and reassure her she will recover. Ensure she get enough rest and food; perhaps ask friends and family to help around the house. Organise a baby sitter so you can spend some time with her. Be aware that she needs love and affection, but may not be in the mood for sex. Encourage bonding time between mum and baby.

Puerperal Psychosis

Puerperal Psychosis is the most rare but severe form of depression after childbirth affecting one in 500 women. Caused by a chemical imbalance brought on by childbirth, the mother experiences hallucinations and feelings of being high, and doing things out of the ordinary. The earliest signs of  puerperal psychosis include restlessness and irritability, insomnia and mild confusion, and most women with the condition would develop these symptoms within the first two weeks of childbirth. Seek urgent medical help is this condition is suspected.

Help for Mothers

Expecting mothers can tend to feel lonely and isolated if they are living away from home, working, and have no one share their concerns with. Joining  mother and toddler or baby group is a perfect way to meet other mums. Also check to see if you have any friends or neighbours you can call on if you need help – this is not a sign of weakness so don't let pride get in your way.

www.pnd.ie is an Irish website dedicated to post natal depression where you can read about other women's experiences and suggestions, and which also allows you to communicate with other mums around the country in the discussion section.

Postnatal Depression Ireland can help you find a support group in your area, which comprises of women going through different stages of PND and who meet monthly. If there are no support groups in your area, Postnatal Depression Ireland keep files of mothers who have recovered from PND and are willing to help others going through the same thing.

Counselling is also another helpful option that women with mild cases have found helpful. In the middle of the night if you need someone to talk to you can call the Samaritans (1850 609 090).

Madge Fogarty id the founder and chairperson of Postnatal Depression Ireland, call (021) 492 3162 or visit www.pnd.ie.

Recovering from Postnatal Depression by Madge Fogarty and Bernie Kealey includes real stories of women who have suffered from PND, helpful tips and more.