Parentline is the only national helpline, that offers support to new mothers suffering with the baby blues or postnatal depression, in confidence and over the phone. This means that a new mother does not have to get organised to leave the comfort of her own home if she needs support. Very often a depressed mother finds it very difficult to get dressed not to mind to leave her own house. Parentline offers a support service in her own home.
According to HSE figures about four out of five women get some form of baby blues and between 10% and 15% go on to develop PND. This is a vast number of new mothers looking for help considering there are approximately 62,000 births in Ireland each year.
Pregnancy and giving birth is a very emotional experience and some deal with it better than others. There can be all sorts of reasons for developing post-natal depression from a history of depression to a traumatic or difficult birth, having a premature or unwell baby or simply the whole change in lifestyle that it brings with the sudden responsibility of a new baby, the constant demands of this little person, sleep deprivation and a certain amount of lost freedom. For some they might feel they are not living up to the media and social media image they had of perfect, glowing mother as they struggle to cope.
The important thing is to ask for help. The sooner you ask, the sooner you will feel better. Any new mother who is having difficulties or experiencing any symptoms of baby blues or post natal depression should seek help early, particularly as PND can last for three months or more and this could be considerably longer if it is not treated.
Just some of the broad range of symptoms to look out for include difficulty enjoying your new baby or spending time with people, crying easily, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep problems, lack of concentration, feeling inadequate, obsessive behaviour, getting agitated easily and loss of appetite. But this is not a finite list.
Along with asking for help, it is extremely important to take care of yourself at this time by eating well, getting some rest where you can, trying to get some exercise and being open about your feelings and worries. It's also good if you can do something you enjoy doing for yourself every day, if at all possible.
Asking for help can direct you to where you need to go for possible further support, whether this is a support group, your public health nurse, your GP or a professional counsellor.
Remember the sooner you ask for help, the sooner you will feel better. Seek help early.