Postnatal Depression

I really wanted to post something about this, as it is something that I and 2 of my close friends have suffered with.  At 17 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby Niamh (who is now about to start Reception!) I started to suffer with horrific lower back pain. I went to see my GP and she wasn’t available so I saw one of her colleagues.  I was in tears in the consultation room, with the then 15 month old Faith in tow, I explained about this chronic pain and was there anything I could be prescribed.  He took a long breath and a long look at me and then said that he felt that there was something more to this, something underlying, pre-natal depression.  I was furious with him, of course I was crying, I was in a lot of pain, of course I didn’t have pre natal depression!  I left the surgery furious with him!

In hindsight, I was 17 weeks pregnant again, with a 15 month old.  I was working, teaching a lot of classes at the Virgin gym as well as running Buggyfit.  Niamh was born on 21st November and I was back teaching both my gym based classes and buggyfit when she was only 6 weeks old.  Faith, then only 20 months old wasn’t in any childcare so I had both of them all day along with juggling work.

I struggled massively for a few months and then with the support of my lovely husband, made a doctors appointment in July 2009  It took until August 2009 to get a diagnosis of Post Natal Depression.  I literally spent a lot of my time wanting to just run away, and, more worryingly wanted to jump off the nearest bridge.

Luckily I have an amazing GP who helped me through the initial stages, prescribed me anti-depressents and set me up with counselling.  Many things came out of this that I didn’t even realise were upsetting me, family issues, and it was great to work through these.

Fast forward 4 years and I am on a reduced dose of the medication (i.e I only take it every other day!).  I am so fortunate to have made a couple of big decisions work wise this year about things that were causing me a great deal of upset, and I am now happy to say that I have eliminated some negative aspects of my life and am focussing on heading forwards.

My 4 year old starts full time school next month and my 6 year old moves into year 2.  I am gradually reducing the medication and feeling better day by day.

The baby blues is one thing, this happens to 95% of new mums, but if this feeling continues it could be more serious.  My advise is to get help.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  But above all, try to talk to people about it, your partner, friends, family etc.  If you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to, then talk to me – I’ve been there 🙂

Here’s some more details:

‘For most women, having a baby is a happy experience, but it can also bring serious complications. An all too common complication associated with giving birth is Postnatal Depression (PND).

Many women, up to 80%, will experience what is commonly referred to as the “baby blues” after giving birth. One out of every eight to ten women will experience a more severe form of the baby blues known as PND. Researchers believe that PND is caused by the rapid hormonal changes that occur just after birth.

How do you differentiate between the baby blues and PND? The baby blues are more commonly associated with a short term sense of sadness after birth, usually lasting for no more than 2 weeks. It is normal after the excitement of pregnancy and the drama of birth for women to feel slightly blue and even let down. PND is much more serious, and sometimes doesn’t kick in until a few weeks after delivery.

There are several warning signs that patients should look for if they suspect PND.

Warning Signs of PND:

  • Constantly feeling restless
  • Irritability that doesn’t fade day after day
  • Feelings of sadness that last more than a few hours or one day
  • Frequent and inexplicable crying
  • Persistent lack of energy
  • Inability to sleep despite fatigue
  • Weight loss or weight gain that is extreme
  • Feelings or fears that you will harm the baby
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Excessive anger
  • Lack of interest in your newborn
  • Intrusive thoughts

PND is very serious. If you have one or more of the signs listed above and are concerned, it is extremely important that you consult with your doctor immediately. PND can be treated with a combination of medication and counselling or therapy. There are also several things that you can do to care for yourself if you are experiencing signs of PND.

Tips for Caring for Yourself:

  • Rest as much as possible
  • Talk to your partner about your fears and concerns
  • Talk to your doctor
  • Be around other people as much as possible
  • Find a support group of other mothers or talk to friends of yours that have children for support
  • Take some time to get dressed and fix your hair. Enlist the help of your partner when you need it.

Some people are more at risk for PND than others. If you have a family history of depression, or have recently experienced events that were unusually stressful while pregnant or shortly after birth, you may be at risk. Single mothers are also more at risk. Be sure to reach out to friends, family members and even your doctor who might be able to recommend a community support group for you to get involved with.

“It’s normal for women to have the ‘baby blues’ up to two weeks postpartum. It isn’t abnormal to be teary, moody and even tired. If those feelings persist coupled with more extreme symptoms including a fear of harming yourself of your baby, you must contact your doctor immediately!” C. Piccone – Labor and Delivery Nurse’




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