Becoming a new parent is truly a life changing experience. It changes the dynamics of a relationship, and can often deepen a couple’s bond. However, it can also be a challenging experience for a family. Symptoms of prenatal or post-partum depression and anxiety (PPD/A), complications during pregnancy or birth, the strain of changing expectations at home, and the financial hardships of maternity/paternity leave, can add unforeseen layers to our parenting journey.
Can be experienced within a few weeks, months, or even a year after arrival of baby
10-16% of women start to experience symptoms during pregnancy
Affects 8-12% of mothers, not just first-time parents
Symptoms present most days to nearly every day, for two weeks or longer
What can symptoms look like?
Anxious thoughts or images
Changes in appetite
Upset over trivial matters
Extreme mood swings
Unable to enjoy baby
Thoughts of harming baby or self
Strong feelings of guilt, failure, worthlessness
Lack of interest in things usually enjoyed
Inability to cope
Although it can affect anyone, these are some contributing factors:
Expectations of yourself, or partner’s expectations of you
Grieving a loss (job, loved one, etc.)
Feeling unsure about pregnancy or parenthood
Being a young parent
Baby with medical conditions
Lack of support/isolation
How can I get help?
Get help as soon as possible; waiting longer can prolong the recovery process. The sooner you take the first step, the sooner you will get back to feeling your usual self and being a better parent. It is important to mention your symptoms to health care providers such as your public health nurse, midwife or physician. Your healthcare professional may be able to let you know about local PPD/A support groups. Counselling, medication, or a combination of both can be very helpful. Education can help with understanding the condition and its effects on your life. Self-care is essential to the recovery process. This includes eating nutritious food, exercise, rest, seeking support (partner, friends, loved ones, etc.), and also finding time for yourself. Recovery may take time, but with the right combination of tools and supports, you will get better.
References & Resources:
Healthy Families BC: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
Healthlink BC: www.healthlink.bc.ca, 8-1-1 (translation services available in 130 different languages)
Pacific Postpartum Support Society: www.postpartum.org, 604-255-7999
BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services: http://www.bcmhsus.ca
Canadian Mental Health Association: www.cmha.bc.ca
Inder Kauldher, MC, RCC
Inder has extensive experience working with adolescents, adults, and families. Counselling new mothers and parents in areas of PPD/A became a passion of hers through her own journey. Having experienced, first-hand, the mental health challenges pregnancy and parenthood can bring, she finds pieces of her own experiences in the birth stories and journeys of parenthood she hears from her clients. She also specializes in areas of depression, anxiety, life transitions, burnout, and cross-cultural issues. For communication with the author, please direct your correspondence here: firstname.lastname@example.org