Post Natal Depression


The exact causes of Post Natal Depression are still unknown. Among the risk factors are:

  • Previous history of depression.
  • Experiencing the birth as difficult.
  • An accumulation of misfortunes like bereavement, losing a job, money problems.
  • Isolation and a lack of support.

Signs and Symptoms

Post Natal Depression can have a broad spectrum of symptoms which vary in severity.


  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of interest
  • A sense of inferiority
  • Marked changes in mood
  • Fear
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Guilt – Hopelessness
  • Panic attacks


What can you do?

  • Believe you will get better.
  • Seek and accept help.
  • Talk to your GP or public health nurse.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Involve your partner as much as possible.
  • Ask people you trust to help with practical chores like housework.
  • Take every opportunity to rest. Try to learn the art of catnapping. Your partner can give the baby a bottle feed at night using experience milk if you like.
  • Get enough nourishment. Choose nutritious foods that require little cooking.
  • Organise a daily treat, however small. It could be a walk in the park, a work out or a coffee and chat with friends.
  • Set aside time for relaxing with friends and family.
  • Find time to have fun. Accept genuine offers to baby-sit and get out for a meal the cinema or simply to visit friends.
  • Be open about your feelings and worries. This will help others understand what you need.
  • Let yourself and your partner be intimate, even if you don’t feel like sex – kiss and a cuddle can be a source of comfort and help the returning of full sexual desire.
  • Find out what support networks are available in your local area and contact them. Mother in a similar situation can provide emotional and practical support.


  • Move house (if you can help it) while you are pregnant or / some months after the delivery.
  • Blame yourself or him. Life is tough at this time. Quarrels can weaken your relationships when it needs to be at its strongest.
  • Try to be superwoman – caring for your baby means you will have to reduce commitments in other areas of your life.

How can fathers help?


  • Try as a couple to go out without the children.
  • Frequently reassure her that her illness is temporary and she will get better.
  • Encourage activity, even though she might resist e.g. suggest a walk


  • Leave her alone with the baby too long.
  • Force the mother to do anything she is not ready for.
  • Walk out on her.

How can family and friends help?

  • Encourage the depressed mother to seek help from GP, public health nurse or counsellor.
  • Try to be patient.
  • Assist in arranging practical childcare.
  • Try to let her express her true feelings and treat them with sympathy.
  • Try to find out more about Post Natal Depression.
  • Try to make sure the new mother gets enough food and rest.
  • Give her a massage – this helps with relaxation.
  • Reassure her of your support.

Useful Reading

  • Book of Post Natal Depression
    By Heather Welford, National Childbirth Trust
  • Coping with Post Natal Depression
    By Mary Pigot, Columba Press
  • The Year After Childbirth
    By S Kitzinger, Hrper Collins, Toronto, 1993
  • Coping with Post Natal Depression
    By Fiona Marshall, Sheldon Press 1993

Useful Organisations

  • La Leche League
  • Mother and toddler groups Parent-line