Postpartum depression is becoming an increasing concern for new parents effecting at least 1 in 7 new mothers in the first year and around 10% of fathers. These statistics are most likely under reported with 70-80% of women being effected by the “baby blues” as a minimum and many with the more pronounced symptoms of Postpartum depression. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of baby blues and post natal depression and access help as soon as possible.
In isolation a lot of these symptoms can seem like a normal transition into parenthood, but if you experience more of these signs and symptoms then it is commonly known as the Baby Blues:
- Feelings of Anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Crying more often than normal
- Mood swings
- Feeling sad more often
- Appetite problems
These symptoms usually last one to two weeks before beginning to ease. Symptoms that last longer and are more severe may be post partum depression.
Signs and symptoms of post partum depression may include:
(derived from the Edinborough Post Natal Depression Scale)
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Early diagnosis and intervention is key to successfully overcoming what can be a very debilitating condition. Talk therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy remain the mainstay of medical management and the first port of call should always be your Medical practitioner. In adjunct to medical management there are other strategies that can really help with both preventing and alleviating the symptoms of postpartum depression and baby blues. This article outlines some of these strategies, particularly babywearing which can be an invaluable tool for any parent.
Here are 5 ways that babywearing can help you
Wearing your baby close can increase bonding and reduce maternal stress.
Developing that close bond between baby and parent is so important but doesn’t always come naturally or instantly as it is usually depicted. Research supports that early skin to skin contact between a mother (and father too!) and their baby can increase oxytocin, known as the love hormone! Promoting those feelings of bonding and love. Wearing your baby in a sling can make skin to skin contact much easier. Try a soft wrap or ring sling for increased comfort for both wearer and baby.
Once you have bonded with your baby, sometimes they want you and only you! This can be overwhelming at times and it is healthy to be able to take short breaks for self care and have another parent or caregiver hold your baby if possible. When baby is used to being worn in a baby carrier, they associate it with comfort and soothing motion, they can sometimes be happy worn in this carrier by another caregiver, allowing some precious moments for self care for mum!
Exercise, sunlight and fresh air!
Getting outside daily for a brisk walk, some fresh air and sunshine sounds like a cliché but the power of this has been shown to have benefits for all kinds of depression. Popping your baby in a carrier where they feel close and secure while getting out for a walk can make the world of difference to your day. There are also babywearing group exercise classes such as Kanga training that you can join if you feel like adding some social interaction into the mix.
Babies who are worn tend to cry less
All babies cry sometimes, it is one of the ways they can communicate their needs to us. A baby who cries a lot can leave a parent feeling very stressed and helpless. A baby who is worn frequently will tend to have their needs met swiftly and feel less need to communicate so loudly! A good strategy for when baby is unsettled can be to put them in the carrier and walk around. The motion can be very soothing.
Self care is important, babywearing can make it easier to do!
Adjusting to the demanding schedule of being a parent can be very difficult. Add to that feeling like the simplest needs of your own are regularly left unmet. Being able to brush your teeth and hair, get a glass of water or prepare a simple snack or meal can make you feel so much better and accomplished!
Babywearing has so many wonderful benefits for both baby and parents and is an invaluable tool to get you through those bumpy weeks and months. Along with a plan from your medical practitioner, you can use these strategies to support you in your parenting journey.
Written by Peta Wilson, Physiotherapist and Owner operator at Moondani Australia. Moondani is an all Australian brand of baby carriers designed to cater to all styles of babywearing from structured carriers to wraps, ring slings and stretchy carriers.
Find us on facebook, Instagram, youtube or visit our website at www.moondani.com.au
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The Edinborough Post Natal Depression Scale Murray and Cox 1990 * Cox, Holden & Sagovsky 1987