MATERNITY DEPARTMENT The Baby Blues and Postnatal Depression Patient information leaflet Further information about Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust is available at www.trafford.nhs.uk Date leaflet produced: September 2007 Review date: September 2009 Version no: 3 Author: Tara Fitzpatrick How to find out more If you want to talk more about the baby blues or postnatal depression you can discuss this leaflet with your midwife or doctor. There is also a team of Supervisors of Midwives who provide advice and support to women about maternity care. If you require further advice after speaking to your This is a very complex area midwife/doctor then you can contact a Supervisor of and new theories and Midwives – Tel 0161 748 4022 (Ask for the Supervisor of Midwives on duty). treatments are constantly being Alternatively the following organisations are helpful: promoted. The advice in this The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) leaflet can only be an overview Tel 0208 992 8637 www.nct-pregnancyandbabycare.com of the issues around this topic. www.nct-online.org.uk The Association of Post-Natal Illness (APNI) If you require further advice Tel 0207 386 0868 speak to your midwife/doctor or www.apni.org health visitor National Association for Mental Health (MIND) Tel 0845 766 0163 www.mind.org.uk Meet-a-mum Association (MAMA) Tel 0208 768 0123 www.mama.org.uk SANE Tel 0845 767 8000 www.sane.org.uk Self Help Introduction It does help to try and rest as much as possible if you are A new baby for most families is an exciting time and suffering from depression, although it can be difficult when you thinking about emotional upsets may seem unpleasant. have a demanding baby to care for. You will find that you will feel This leaflet has been designed to help you become aware worse if you are over tired. Ask a partner or friend to care for the of some of the common emotional upsets that can occur baby whilst you have proper rest. Try to lie on your bed even if after the birth of a baby and to help women who are you do not sleep. suffering to talk about them and seek the help they need. You may be reading this leaflet for a variety of reasons. Try to eat a small meal or have a hot sweet drink at regular You might be worried that you get depression after your intervals. Many depressed mothers forget to eat and this can baby is born, or you might be experiencing these feelings make the depression symptoms feel worse. already. It is probably a good idea to acknowledge that in our society, and in many others, ‘problems with your mind’ If you would like to join a group meeting where all the problems of are not accepted as an illness as much as a broken leg or motherhood are discussed, please contact any of the groups heart disease are. listed at the end of this leaflet. Can Post-Natal Depression be prevented? What are the ‘baby blues’? There are some common sense things that you can do to look The ‘baby blues’ is due to a combination of your hormones after yourself, which help to minimise the risks. adjusting after the birth of your baby and the effect of you becoming a mother, knowing you are responsible for a tiny Before the baby is born human being. It is a period of mild depression, which • Try not to undergo any major changes such as moving usually occurs soon after the baby is born. Up to 80% of house while you are pregnant or until the baby is 6 months all mothers experience the ‘baby blues’ and they usually old. last no more than a day or two. If the symptoms do not go • Try to identify someone who you can talk to about away and you feel as if you are getting worse you should motherhood as it can help so much to have someone to mention this to your midwife, health visitor or doctor. confide in. This person might be a close relative or friend. If you do not have anyone who can fill this role there are How will I feel if I have the ‘baby blues’ Support Groups and Help The ‘blues’ can be very alarming for a new mother, as she In Trafford, a group of Health Visitors have joined together to will probably have been looking forward to the birth of her form the Pre & Post Natal Care Team. This includes a group of baby. Feelings include; Health Visitors with specialised training in Pre & Post Natal • Tearful Depression. You can ask your midwife to refer you to the Team • Over sensitive or you can self-refer by ringing 0161 746 7800. • Tense • Anxious • Irritable • Angry • Tired Who can help with the ‘baby blues’? Who can help if you have Post-Natal Depression? The best help a partner or someone close can give is to just listen If your depression lasts longer than a few days you should and allow mum to cry if she wants to, give her a reassuring hug discuss your feelings with your doctor. If possible take and look after the baby while she gets some rest. your partner or a friend or relative with you. Before you see the doctor write down a list of all the symptoms that Two thirds of women get better just by talking to their health you are suffering from. You should not go on suffering visitor so it is really important to tell your health visitor how you depression in the hope that it will go away. Postnatal are feeling. depression is a real illness and it can be treated successfully with anti-depressant drugs. These drugs are Talk to an understanding and sympathetic member of your family not addictive. They make the unpleasant symptoms fade or a friend. If they understand that you will recover completely until they go completely. and be your ‘old self’ again when you are better, then they can be a real source of comfort to you during the time of your illness. After you have seen your doctor, you may find it helpful to • Attend groups where you can meet other mothers What is Post-Natal Depression? Please see the back page for details. Post-Natal Depression is an unpleasant illness, which affects • Try to make sure that you go to antenatal classes around 10% of mothers. It can start at any time in the first six as they can help you to prepare you for becoming a months and sometimes up to a year after the birth of a baby. The mother. You will also be able to meet other list of signs should not alarm you, and remember that this is a mothers to exchange ideas and experiences of condition that always results in complete recovery, and the motherhood. distressing symptoms can be treated with medication. After the baby is born What are the signs of Post-Natal Depression? • Remember to talk to your partner about how you There are several symptoms. These include: are feeling. He will probably be unaware of your • Feeling hopeless and despondent emotions and is less likely to be finding the change • Feeling permanently tired and lethargic in routine difficult. • Feeling that you cannot cope with baby • Make sure that you get enough sleep. Sleep when • Feeling tearful and crying much of the time your baby sleeps. • Feeling tense and irritable all the time • Don’t try and be a super mum! It is tempting to do • Difficulty sleeping and poor appetite housework while the baby is sleeping but the • May suffer from panic attacks housework can wait. • A loss of interest in sex • Eat regularly • Guilt as they are not ‘coping’ • Find some time for fun. Try to find a babysitter and • Obsessional and inappropriate thoughts go out with your partner or friend. • Make some time for yourself to relax and do something that you enjoy for at least half an hour a day. • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if there is help available.