Whether you are having your first baby or your fifth, pregnancy is a time of considerable change in a family’s life. While the image of the happy, glowing pregnant woman remains prominent in our society, the real experience can be quite different.
So too, there is often an expectation that the birth of a baby will bring instant joy and happiness. However, a new baby also brings major changes in family roles, relationships and routines, and these changes can be very stressful. In some families, parents, babies and other children may begin to experience difficulties.
Postnatal depression affects 1 in 8 women and antenatal depression is thought to be at least as common. The onset of depression during pregnancy or after the birth appears to be associated with the complex physiological, psychological and social changes that occur at this time in a woman’s life.
Many women suffer these symptoms in silence in the belief that they are the only one to feel this way and that nothing can be done to help them. Others are reassured by well-intentioned friends and family that what they are experiencing is simply part of the ‘normal’ adjustment to motherhood. While it is normal for mothers to feel exhausted and overwhelmed at times, if these feelings persist do not hesitate to seek help.
The good news is that antenatal and postnatal depression can be treated very effectively. The complex relationship issues associated with this unique time of life can also respond well to specialised psychological interventions. Immediate help can often address problems rapidly and prevent symptoms becoming worse. Indeed, intervention during pregnancy may prevent or reduce problems in the postnatal period.
A variety of treatment options are available to meet the family’s specific needs: