is postnatal depression
how stress turns into depression
avoiding postnatal depression
is postnatal depression?
It seems that for some mothers,
the ordinary stresses of motherhood change from being
worries to being the building blocks of depression.
Here are some examples of the feelings women report
that contribute to postnatal depression.
Insecurity. The fear
that a mother may be abandoned, especially by the father
of the baby. In fact many marriages break up in the
year following childbirth. So in other words, this is
a perfectly reasonable stress.
2: Low self-esteem. Perhaps it is a shock when
a woman sees how childbirth has affected her looks.
Maybe a new mother now has a mother or mother-in-law
constantly telling her what to do. A mother can feel
guilty because she is having problems breastfeeding.
3: A feeling that the baby is more important than
the mother: A mother can feel jealous of her own
children. When a mother is delivering, she gets a lot
of attention. Then, often, it all stops. Doesn't everybody
always say, "Oh what a beautiful Baby"? Who says "Oh
what a beautiful mother"?
4: Becoming a slave to your baby. Babies just
take and take all the time. And the work can be messy,
demeaning and boring. This can be a shock to a new mother.
5: Restriction. It can be a shock to realise
that a new mother is not free anymore to live her own
life and that there is now a baby for whom she is totally
responsible. Mothers can feel they have sacrificed their
6: Dependence. Mothers can suddenly realise how
much they now have to rely on others, like their husband
or parents. This can make them feel insecure.
7: Disappointed expectations. This is maybe the
most important factor: motherhood can seem wonderful
before we actually do it, and the reality of being a
mother can be a shock. The idea that motherhood is all
beautiful is part of the problem.
stress turns into depression?
were some of the things which mothers said could lead
to this serious problem - they are today's common stresses
of motherhood. But why does this happen for some women
and not for others? Research shows some women are more
at risk than others. If we know the signs, we can take
extra care. But what the research shows is perhaps surprising.
not to do with "hormones", or chemicals in the body,
but experiences women have had - experiences that may
be remembered, or ones that lie buried deep inside a
mother. Here are the two main signs that show if you
are at risk of postnatal depression.
Risk Factor 1 : if you have a relation who had
depression. It may seem surprising that this kind of
thing can "run in the family". But no-one is surprised
if one family often has tall people in it.
Factor 2 : if you grew up in a family that was not
very supportive; especially if your own father was not
very supportive to you or to your mother. Maybe it's
all about the images we have in our inner eye; about
how much we can feel confident in being a mother.
about your problems is good for you. Your family can
help you not to feel alone. If you feel sad or insecure,
it's not shameful, but very common - and it's not your
fault. In Malaysia, there is a wonderful tradition where
mothers who have a problem like this are allowed to
say whatever they want in front of the village. Afterwards,
they all the village celebrate her.
Mothers often talk of the importance of feeling "welcomed
back to the world" after childbirth. Many cultures have
rituals which do this. This process may be more important
than we think.
Something else you can learn from mothers elsewhere
in the world, is the value of a lying-in period after
delivery, often about six weeks. We get lots of help
in the house, we can get our strength back, and our
self-esteem can recover.
As for postnatal depression: with the support of those
around us, mothers are strong enough to fight it!