The Baby Blues and Postnatal Depression

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					                                                                MATERNITY DEPARTMENT

                                                             The Baby Blues and Postnatal
                                                                   Patient information leaflet
Further information about Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust is
available at

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
 of the issues around this topic.

                                    The Association of Post-Natal Illness (APNI)
  If you require further advice     Tel 0207 386 0868
speak to your midwife/doctor or

          health visitor            National Association for Mental Health (MIND)
                                    Tel 0845 766 0163

                                    Meet-a-mum Association (MAMA)
                                    Tel 0208 768 0123

                                    Tel 0845 767 8000
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
                                                                           • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if there is help