You may feel down after having a baby – known as the ‘baby blues’. These feelings usually only last a day or two. If the blues don’t go away, you may be developing postnatal depression. Ask for help. Postnatal depression can be treated.
You may have postnatal depression if you:
- always feel tired
- cry a lot
- feel that you are a bad mother
- have aches and pains
- think bad thoughts
- do not sleep well, even when your baby is asleep
- feel that you can’t cope with anything, such as housework
- feel anxious or uncertain all of the time
- don’t care about how you or things around you look
- get angry with other people around you, such as your partner, other children or your whānau.
Any woman who has a baby is quite likely to feel some of these things some of the time. Postnatal depression is when these feelings do not go away.
Because postnatal depression can affect how women feel about and care for their babies and other children, your midwife or nurse will ask questions about your feelings when they visit, so they can help you to get the support you need.
Postnatal depression can also affect men. Postnatal depression is more common among men who have been depressed before, or whose partners are suffering from depression.
Getting help and support
Depression is an illness and most often people get well again. It does not mean that you have ‘failed’ as a person or a parent.
If you or your whānau notice any of these feelings, especially if they last for more than a few days, talk straight away to your midwife, nurse or doctor. Your doctor will be able talk to you about treatment, which may include taking medicine. They will also know what help is available in your area.
You can also find out more about depression and get support from:
- the Depression Helpline (0800 111 757)
- Lifeline (0800 543 354)
- the Samaritans (0800 726 666)
- Youthline (0800 376 633)
- Plunket (0800 933 922)
- the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
- the Postnatal Distress Support Network Trust.
Partners, fathers and other support people need to know what to do if they are worried about you. They should understand that it’s OK to ask for advice about the best way to support you.
Talk to other people as well. They may have had the same feelings as you when they had new babies. Your whānau and friends can help with small, everyday things (looking after other children, meals, errands or housework). They can also remind you that you do not have to go through this alone.
If you have had depression or another mental illness before, you might like to think about the help or support you may need after your baby is born. You could ask other people to be ready to help you, or let people know what to look for, so that you can get help early.
The Mothers Matter website provides information for mothers, fathers and whānau on postnatal depression and related conditions, and provides links to local support services.
Postnatal depression: what is going on – Great Fathers
About postnatal depression: how it feels; how it affects your baby; supporting your partner; postnatal depression in men; where to get help.
Postnatal depression – Women’s and Children’s Health Network/Parenting and Child Health/Child and Youth Health (Australia)
About the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression, treatment and support.