In my last post (here) I stated that close physical contact with your baby (especially for the extended durations possible when using a suitable sling or baby carrier) can reduce the symptoms of postnatal depression (1). Now I’m ready to explain why this is such an important subject…
At least 10-15% of mothers will experience Post Natal Depression during their pregnancy or in the first years after having a baby. It’s not something to be ashamed about, or to pretend doesn’t happen. It does. I suffered from it, and I recognise symptoms of it in others every week. I blogged about my experience here: A Light Through the Clouds: Reply to a Mother with Post Natal Depression
I believe that our culture has lost the recognition of how important community support is for those having babies, and how a lack of it (or the ever increasing expectations and demands placed on mothers who are effectively managing alone) can be so damaging to so many women. Mothers and fathers need understanding and patience and reassuring supportive company, not unattainable and restrictive standards, blame and guilt (they put enough of that on themselves without any help!)
As a friend posted earlier today, symptoms of depression are NOT a sign of weakness. They are signs of having tried to remain strong for too long. Being a parent is one of the hardest, most physically demanding and emotionally relentless jobs that you can ever undertake and I’m always in awe of the many many strong women and men that I get to meet at such a pivotal part of their life.
However black it may feel at times, please believe in yourself. Your baby does not feel any blame or see any lack in your care. They love you wholeheartedly for whatever you can offer them. It does get easier and there is help out there.
For a more informative and less emotional view, this new factsheet from the Royal College of Psychiatrists is very clear and has lots of useful links to support organisations: Postnatal Depression