Motherhood, Pregnancy and Baby

Mental Health Problems in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period.

Patrice Keogh of @serene_mum_and_baby_ibclc is a Midwife, Hypnobirthing Instructor and Lactation Consultant

Patrice Keogh of @serene_mum_and_baby_ibclc is a Midwife, Hypnobirthing Instructor and Lactation Consultant who is passionate about Infant / Maternal Mental Health.

She shares some thoughts and indicators of perinatal mental heath, what to watch for, what you might experience, postnatal depression, baby blues and supports.

As many as 1 in 5 new mothers experiences some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, so it is exceptionally important to highlight.

The overall theme of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 is ‘Together in a changing world’.

Perinatal mental health is such an important topic to highlight. Pregnancy and early motherhood often signal a time of joy and excitement but also a time of massive change and challenges. The term Matrescence, defined as the process of becoming a mother is a huge transition and often an area that is largely unexplored in the medical community as the focus remains mostly on the baby.

Motherhood is often represented by the birth of a child, but when a child is born, so too is a mother. The mother needs looking after too and in today’s society finding that village can often be challenging.

Thankfully perinatal mental health services have been developed in all maternity units/hospitals since 2017 and provide specialist support to women experiencing mental health problems in pregnancy and the postpartum period.

What to watch out for?
-loss of appetite
-poor concentration
-tiredness all the time
-problems sleeping
-being agitated
-crying easily
Feelings and thoughts you might experience include:
-feeling inadequate
-feeling panicked
-feeling rejected by your baby
-worrying a lot about your baby
-Obsessive behaviour may be another sign of postnatal depression.

Some reasons why PND may occur:
💙Previous emotional traumas
💙A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
💙Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
💙Inadequate support in caring for the baby
💙Relationship/financial stress
💙Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
💙A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
💙Mothers of multiples
💙Mothers whose infants are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
💙Mothers who have gone through infertility treatments
💙Women with a thyroid imbalance

It is important to note that the term “baby blues”, where mums may feel tearful and emotional, particularly on day 3 due to fluctuations in hormones is not postnatal depression.

If you are experiencing some of these feelings, you may be suffering from postnatal depression and you should ask for help. Please chat to someone you can trust. It may be your partner, your mother, your sister or a complete stranger. It is also important to link with your family doctor (GP) and your public health nurse.

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