We hear a lot of about depression after childbirth, but both men and women can experience problems before the baby is born as well.
Perinatal depression is a medical condition which can occur anytime from conception until the baby is one year-old. It affects about 100 thousand Australian parents every year.
When we use the word depression we’re talking about someone who might have a low self-esteem, no motivation to do daily activities, they may feel like they are in a very black, dark, difficult place. They may have poor energy, poor self-care, have difficulty maintaining their daily relationships or performing tasks at work.
When you first become pregnant a couple can experience many emotions; joy and excitement, but there can also be the realisation that life as you know it is about to change significantly. There is almost a grieving process for the life you had. If you haven’t had a baby before, while you know life is going to change, you may not have a firm grip or understanding of that until it happens. It can be a fear of the unknown that can bring on symptoms of depression.
It’s a lot of work to look after a baby so it’s really important your own physical and emotional health and wellbeing isn’t forgotten. You might be feeling fatigued, experience feelings of failure to look after your baby or it might be really hard to come to terms with the reality of how your life has changed. If you’re in a dark place where you can’t cope that’s a medical condition that needs treatment.
There are plenty of ways to access help and support whether it’s from friends and family, help lines or online support to seeing a professional counsellor. There is no shame in asking for help and the sooner a person is able to access support the better.
Bupa has teamed up with lead researchers and specialists to develop a new online tool mummatters.
It’s a great way for women who are pregnant or recently had a baby to do some simple checks to ensure they’re coping well and provides access to support services if needed.