Pregnancy, labour, birth and adjusting to a new baby brings about many changes to a woman’s life. While it is a time to celebrate and there are many joys it is not easy to adjust. Baby blues are very common after giving birth and many women experience perinatal depression.
What exactly are baby blues?
Due to fluctuating hormone levels and a lack of sleep you may be experiencing feelings of irritability and being overwhelmed when recovering from births as well as the realization that you’re responsible for taking care of the new little person that entered your life. Baby blues only last a few weeks after giving birth.
However, if you’re feeling depressed and helpless for longer than normal and it is not going away, it’s possible that you’re suffering from perinatal depression.
Information and symptoms of perinatal depression
Perinatal depression occurs during your perinatal period which starts during pregnancy and persists for up to twelve months after giving birth. A lot of focus is placed on postnatal depression, but studies revealed that frequently the depression originates during pregnancy itself.
The term perinatal depression involves both postnatal and antenatal depression and women who experienced postnatal depression during previous pregnancies are at risk of having perinatal depression during their next pregnancies.
If you have experienced postnatal depression with a previous pregnancy, it is vital to disclose this information to your doctor, to ensure that they monitor the situation and provide you with early intervention if you are currently pregnant.
Symptoms of perinatal depression
• An inability or lack of longing to take care of your baby and/or yourself
• Poor appetite
• Extreme fatigue
• Problems with memory
• Feeling sad persistently
• A feeling of hopelessness
• Feeling helpless
• Having trouble sleeping
• Feelings of panic
Mild depression can be dealt with through counselling and cases of moderate to severe perinatal depression will require medication.
It’s essential to remember that being depressed does not make you a bad mother, but when depression is left untreated it can lead to neonatal outcomes which can be harmful. That’s why detection and treatment of perinatal depression is key to ensure that a mother can take care of themselves as well as their babies.