New mothers are expected to be filled with joy over the arrival of a new baby, however they are not expected to struggle or speak of the challenges a newborn brings. This means that when we are experiencing challenges, the stigma in admitting this can impact negatively on a mothers’ general confidence and parenting confidence. Mothers may feel embarrassed or worry that those around them will think they are not a good parent. Sometimes they fear this themselves and this is what prevents them seeking support. A mum may think “What’s wrong with me that I’m struggling with this and no one else does?” This thinking often results in a hesitancy to seek help. However, if a mother feels she may be experiencing postnatal depression she should definitely seek help.

So what are the signs of Postnatal Depression (PND)?

There are twelve things that mothers should lookout for in themselves and in other mothers.

  1. Loss of interest in the things that they used to enjoy (e.g. time with friends, time with partner, going out)
  2. Sleep problems unrelated to your baby waking overnight. This might be difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep or wanting to sleep all the time
  3. Feeling generally sad, having a low mood or crying with no obvious reason
  4. Low energy and motivation
  5. Feeling overwhelmed with the demands of having a child
  6. Feeling guilty or inadequate
  7. Feeling anxious or irritable
  8. Fear of being alone with your child
  9. Experiencing difficulties with concentration, memory and making decisions
  10. Changes in appetite
  11. Social withdrawal (not wanting to see friends of family)
  12. Experiencing thoughts of harm to yourself or your baby

If any of these signs are familiar, the first point of call is always to consult your General Practitioner and/or your Maternal and Child Health Nurse (MCHN).

It is important to be open with them and really let them know what is going on and how you are feeling. This can be very difficult and mothers can be uncomfortable doing this but in order for your doctor or nurse to really assess what might be most helpful they need to know what is really going on. It’s likely that this will lead to a referral to a specialist psychologist.

At VCPS, we have a dedicated intake team to answer any questions you have about therapy. You can chat with our team in real-time online or give them a call on (03) 9419 7172. We would love to help you with your journey into therapy.

Books we recommend:

  • This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleiman
  • Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields

Practitioners we recommend:

View the related Inside VCPS podcast here:

Episode 5 - Meet Nikki Zerman

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