Depression affects between ten and twenty percent of pregnant women and new mothers. Depression is not simply feeling sad, low, blue or down in the dumps for a little while. True depression is more intense and lasts longer than a few days. Women who are depressed during pregnancy have a greater risk of depression after giving birth. If you have been taking medications for depression, you may have to stop during pregnancy, and this can allow depressive feelings and thoughts to return. Some women may be afraid to talk about their depression, fearing they will be viewed as “bad mothers”, and believing they are “supposed to be happy”. If you are depressed after childbirth, it is important to talk to someone before the problem worsens.
The baby blues go away after a few days. The symptoms are not severe and do not interfere with functioning in a significant way.
• mood swings
• feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
• crying spells
• loss of appetite
• trouble sleeping
• feeling restless or moody
• feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
• crying a lot
• having no energy or motivation
• eating too little or too much
• sleeping too little or too much
• having trouble focusing or making decisions
• having memory problems
• feeling worthless and guilty
• losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
• withdrawing from friends and family
• having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that don’t go away
• thoughts of hurting the baby
• thoughts of hurting yourself
• not having any interest in the baby
• baby blues that don’t go away after two weeks
• symptoms of depression get more and more intense
• strong feelings of sadness or anger come on one or two months after delivery
• it is hard for you to function at work or at home
• you cannot care for yourself or your baby
Postnatal depression can be serious, and should be discussed with your GP. Postnatal depression can sometimes be so severe as to lead to a break with reality. This is rare, occurring in about 2 or 3 of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. Women who have bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk for postnatal psychosis. Symptoms may include:
• seeing things that aren’t there
• feeling confused
• having rapid mood swings (highs and lows several times a day)
• actually trying to hurt themselves or their baby
Experience shows that it can actually be helpful in overcoming post-
Having suffered personally with postnatal depression, I can relate to how difficult a time this is for a new mother, so I created these sessions specifically to help.
Click here to learn more about my Mother & Baby Sessions.
It is very common for women to struggle with their new role, particularly in our fast-
• Depression tends to run in families.
• Stressful life events, such as death of a loved one, caring for an aging family member, abuse, and poverty, can trigger depression.
• Hormonal factors unique to women may contribute to depression in some women. Women are at greater risk of depression at certain times in their lives, such as puberty, during and after pregnancy, and during perimenopause. Some women also have depressive symptoms right before their period.
Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postnatal depression. When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are higher. Hormone levels return to normal after just one day following the birth.
Other causes may contribute to postnatal depression, such as feeling:
• tired after delivery
• tired from a lack of sleep
• unsure of your ability to be a “good mother,” or an unrealistic need to be a “perfect mom”
• stressed by changes in your routine
• stressed by your change in identity and sense of self
• less attractive to your partner due to weight and body changes
• stressed from a lack of free time
• disappointed by the reality of parenthood compared to expectations
• stressed by the expectations of family
• angry or confused due to a lack of help from your partner of family
• worried about money
• stressed by changes in your relationship or your partner’s reaction to the birth
• a personal history of depression or another mental illness
• a family history of depression or another mental illness
• a lack of support from family and friends
• anxiety or negative feelings about the pregnancy
• problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
• marriage or money problems
• stressful life events
• young age
• substance abuse
• Get sleep when the baby is sleeping, even in the middle of the day (if possible).
• Ask for help from your partner, family, or friends.
• Take some time for yourself when you can.
• Try to avoid any major changes in your life besides what is necessary to adjust to having a child. Moving, changing jobs, and other major changes add stress unnecessarily.
• Eat a healthy, nutritious diet.
• Get some exercise.
• Talk with someone about your feelings, even if you are mostly feeling fine.
• Keep in mind that in your particular situation where you are already doing all you can for your little one, you ARE the most perfect mother.
We learn, grow and improve every day. Tomorrow is a new day, and you might decide to make different choices, but today you’ve been perfect just the way you are. So, even though just now this fact doesn’t yet fully resonate with you, try to make an effort, simply smile at your reflection in the mirror and say: “Today I’ve done my best within my knowledge and abilities, and I am grateful to myself for that. Thank you, Me.