Mind Talks about Post-natal Depression
A new study of 1,000 mothers conducted by The Baby Show reveals that 44% of mothers felt isolated after giving birth and 23% suffered from post-natal depression. Of those 23%, 60% felt they did not receive the right support at this time. Tomorrow, October 23, The Baby Show are hosting a panel ‘Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster: What all parents should know about the baby blues and postnatal depression’ at Olympia. Speakers include Bryony Gordon, who runs her own YouTube channel OneFatMother, Mark Williams, co-founder of Dads Matter UK and Rachel Boyd, Information Manager from mental health charity Mind.
Welldoing spoke to Rachel Boyd on the eve of the event:
Are modern women are more likely to struggle with changing identity when they become mothers?
For all families, having children can be a life changing experience. But modern women are also likely to be balancing work, careers, family, finances and social life. Having a child doesn’t have to change who you are or what’s important to you, but you may have less time for some of the things you enjoy or are committed to. If you work, you may find it difficult to stop working while on maternity leave. Financial pressures can also cause difficulties, and you may feel you have to go back to work earlier than you intended to.
Do women feel under a lot of pressure to be 'perfect' mothers?
Nearly all parents will have the best of intentions, to help their children be healthy and happy. Mothers may put themselves under huge amounts of pressure to be the ‘perfect’ mother, and may feel upset or guilty if they feel like they’ve made a mistake. Because people may keep their worries to themselves, it can look like other people are happy and flourishing, even if they’re secretly struggling. This can make it even harder to feel like you’re doing a good job, even though your worries might be shared by lots of other mothers. This is why talking openly and honestly can be so important - you’re probably much less alone than you feel.
Has social media worsened this pressure as parents feel they have to upload happy, smiling photos?
It’s true that lots of people present a version of their life on social media that focusses on the positives and the successes. And that can be great - when things are going well, or you’re having a moment of feeling happy about your growing family, it can be lovely to share. But it’s often harder to see that other people are struggling too, so you may end up feeling like everyone else is fine while you’re feeling stuck. It’s also important to remember that social media can be a great place to get support from others going through similar things - whether that’s finding a friend on facebook who’s also struggling with breastfeeding at 3am, or reading a blog about someone else’s experience of post-natal depression.
How long might post-natal depression last, does it only happen when your child is young?
Post-natal depression usually starts in the first six weeks after childbirth, though can take up to a year to develop. For half of women, it will last for around a year though in some cases can last longer. Getting good treatment as soon as possible can help women to recover quickly.
What does post-natal depression 'look like'? What can friends and family look out for and what can they do to help?
The symptoms of post-natal depression will vary from person to person but some common ones are: feeling sad, low and tearful, feeling hopeless, problems with concentration, feeling angry and irritated, feeling numb or indifferent towards your partner or baby, finding it hard to eat, finding it hard to sleep - even when you’re tired and have the opportunity - having thoughts about death.
Friends and family can look out for these symptoms, as well as people seeming very low, tired or withdrawn. If you are worried about someone, it can be really helpful to talk as openly as you can and give them the opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling. It can be really important that you’re realistic and, although you may feel happy or excited about a new baby, let them know it’s normal to find parts of being a new parent difficult.
You could also offer some practical support, like helping with domestic chores or looking after the child so that they can have a bit of a break. If your friend or family member needs a bit more support, you could help them speak to their GP or find a local support group.