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Postnatal depression (PND) is a depressive illness that occurs after having a baby. It is common for women following childbirth to experience a period of 'low' mood. This can range in severity from a mild and normal period of mood disturbance ('baby blues'), through to PND and the most severe and rarest problem (puerperal psychosis).
· Crying and tearfulness
· Loss of interest in the usual activities
· Loss/increase in food
· Lack of Concentration
· Guilt and inadequacy
· Sleep disturbance
· Inability to cope
· Lack of Bonding
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is used to help identify mothers suffering from PND. Normally, you will be asked to complete it, by your Public Health Nurse, 3 of 4 days after giving birth and then again at 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth.
One in seven women after giving birth suffer from PND. A recent study by TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association) in the UK found that mothers of twins and more are twice as likely to suffer from PND compared to mothers of singletons.
PND has no boundaries and is not prejudiced. It affects women of all ages, social and ethnic backgrounds, those who work at home and those who go out to work. Those that are married and those that are single. But however devastating it may seem it is treatable and you can recover from it. You can’t prevent it but you can help yourself from continuing to suffer in silence.
What to do if think you might have PND
· Don't 'bottle things up'. Talk to somebody about how you feel.
· Remember that depression is an illness and you are not suffering from it because you are weak or hopeless. Also remember that it is very common and that it will get better.
· Speak to your health visitor or GP. They will be able to sort out what should be the best way of helping you with your illness and it doesn’t always involve medication. Stress relieving alternative therapies such as Reiki have been recommended by some mothers.
· Do not worry that you will lose your babies. When mothers have PND they often think that they are poor mothers and that if they speak to somebody like their GP, they will have their babies taken from them. This will NOT happen. What will happen is that you will get the help that you need to get rid of the PND. This will help you deal better with the stresses of motherhood and the additional stresses of being a mother of two or more.
· Having a baby is tiring and stressful for any mother, let alone two or three. You will not be able to manage all the things that you did before the birth. Reduce your commitments and accept help when it is offered.
· Take any opportunity you can to get some sleep.
· Make sure that you try to keep up your normal diet - you will need all the energy you can get. Some mothers recommend Udos Oils for helping with mood swings.
· Involve your partner. Having young babies will be difficult for him too and he will be concerned about your illness. Encourage him to speak to your health visitor or GP so he can understand the illness you have.
· Try to get some time to yourself and with your partner if you can. Even if its only going to WeightWatchers – the important thing is getting out of the house and turning off ‘the babies channel’ even for an hour a week.
· Talk to other mums with twins –come to the IMBA multiples clubs or ring the IMBA helpline on 01-8749056. You will find that they also feel many of the same things you do. A lot of women feel that it is their inability to cope that is causing the depression, in fact it is the reverse, it is the illness that is causing the inability to cope.
Once again, remember that it is NOT your fault that you have PND.
Other Useful Resources:
www.pnd.ie website offering support and information about PND.