Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Want to know the difference between feeling anxious, the baby blues and postnatal depression? This section offers advice from Tresillian on how to deal with signs of stress and anger and where to go for help if you think you have postnatal depression.
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I’m feeling anxious, exhausted and not in a good space at all. How do I know if it’s just the baby blues or postnatal depression?
The baby blues occurs during the first week or so after a baby’s birth and lasts for a relatively short time. Postnatal depression is a condition that can last from several weeks to several months and affects at least 20% of mothers. Onset can be any time in the first year after birth. Symptoms of postnatal depression include: overwhelming feelings of anxiety or a depressed mood; loss of control when usually competent; an inability to think clearly or find the right word and tearfulness for no apparent reason. Do confide in your partner about how you’re feeling and talk to your doctor or Child and Family Health Nurse. Postnatal depression can be treated successfully with the right help.
Sometimes I get so upset and angry when I can’t calm my baby. It really scares me that I might hurt him.
No matter how upset and angry you are, never shake your baby! Shaking can result in permanent brain damage and life-threatening injuries. If you feel you are losing self -control this is one of the times that it is okay to leave your baby to cry. Place them in to a safe place until you calm down and regain self control. While baby is in a safe place, such as the cot or pram, ring your partner, a family member or friend to come and give you some support. It’s important to talk to your child and family health nurse or doctor about your feelings.
I often feel really sad and anxious during the day. Some days I just sit and feel sad.
There are things that can be done to help you feel much better so you can really start enjoying motherhood. Firstly Are you getting enough sleep? Remember, the housework can wait, sleep when baby sleeps. Are you eating a well balanced diet? There are many online companies that deliver fresh fruit and vegetables and groceries, to your door. Take advantage of the convenience. Do you have regular time to yourself away from your baby? (An hour a week will do and if you don’t have family, contact the Occasional Care Centre in your neighbourhood) Have you connected with other Mums in a similar positon to you? If not, your Child and Family Health Nurse can suggest some options such as ‘Mother’s Groups’ etc. Are you exercising each day? Taking your baby in the pram for a walk each day, even for half and hour, will make the world of difference . Try and make time to play with your baby and enjoy those toothy grins? You are your baby’s best friend. If you continue to feel sad, don’t bottle up your feelings, talk about it with your partner, a close friend or family member as you may have the baby blues or the early stages of post natal depression and the sooner you get help, the sooner you can receive treatment. But, do talk about it and tell those close to you how you’re feeling. You'd be surprised at how many other women also go through the same feelings. Then make an appointment to see either your child and family health nurse or doctor to discuss the options for treatment. Most mothers require medication in addition to counseling, to speed up the emotional recovery process. Medication on its own is usually not as effective so don’t be tempted to put off the counselling. Keep in mind that it can take up to a month for the medication to positively impact on how you are feeling.
It takes a very long time to calm my baby down. He seems distressed. Is this normal?
Crying is the only way infants have of communicating their needs. Babies provide us with lots of cues, such as crying, as to how they are feeling and what they want us to do to help them regulate their emotions. They can’t tell you in words or actions how lonely, uncomfortable, frustrated or hungry they may be. It’s normal for babies to cry daily at some point. Learning to de-code and watching for cues as to what your baby wants from you, will make your job as a parent easier. Crying can be due to: • hunger, thirst, being hot or cold, a wet or soiled nappy; • being overtired, excited or frightened ; • a need for comfort (to soothe your baby back into a calm state) Keep in mind that your baby may also have unsettled periods where they are fussing and crying for no apparent reason. If your baby is otherwise well you can consider other options. For example: offer a "top up" breastfeed within 30 minutes of the last feed (babies up to 3 months); cuddle; rhythmical movement, walk using pram, sling; play some music; offer a dummy; offer cooled boiled water (babies over 6 months) baby massage; or deep relaxation bath.