1 in 7 women will experience post-natal depression, or 48,400 women across Australia. That’s enough women to fill 116 jumbo jets every year. I’ll just let that sink in for you.
I remember sitting in my preparation for birth class with six other couples. We named various female body parts, practiced birthing positions, deep breathing and other equally ungraceful activities. The instructor warned us that two of the seven women in the room would give birth by caesarean. We were never warned that one of the women in the room would suffer from post-natal depression.
And it’s not just for mums either. In Australia 28,500 men are suffering from post-natal depression too.
When I was pregnant I never really gave post-natal depression much thought. The bright-eyed optimism of pregnancy seems to protects us in some way. I’m not saying this to scare you, but I wish I had.
Why? Because studies show that couples are most receptive to information about post-natal depression in the early stages of their pregnancy. Attending preparation for parenthood workshops whilst pregnant have proven to reduce the trauma of post-natal depression on families. This is because couples then know that post-natal depression is not a stigma, they recognise warning sign early and they know where to go for help.
Beyond Blue lists 11 common behaviours associated with depression:
- Moodiness that is out of character
- Increased irritability and frustration
- Finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms
- Spending less time with friends and family
- Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
- Being awake throughout the night
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Staying home from work or school
- Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
- Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
- Slowing down of thoughts and actions.
Read this list. Get your partner, parents and friends to read this list. Then be kind to one another and keep an eye out if any of these symptoms arise.
Out of that birth class two of the women are now struggling with post-natal depression, and it took them nine months and fifteen months respectively to get the support they need. That’s a long time to suffer given that post-natal depression usually occurs with three months of the birth.
I feel really sad that these women, who are now my dear friends, waited so long. Don’t wait, get educated before you baby is born, and if you are ever feeling unsure ask for the help you need. Your family will thank your for it.
Visit From the Heart
Call PANDA on 1300 726 306
Call Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Visit your GP