According to Tamba, mums of multiples are twice as likely to suffer from postnatal depression compared with mums of single children. PND should not be confused with ‘baby blues’ which can affect up to 85 per cent of mums with twins. Baby Blues is a hormonal and physical condition which occurs within the first week or so of birth. PND can begin as ‘baby blues’ but can last weeks or up to two years after birth. The causes and symptoms are complex and varied but there are discernable patterns. The overriding feeling is one of inability to cope and that life is a terrible effort. Feelings range from not being able to look after the baby to harming the baby. There can be feelings of anger, resentment, a sense of being a failure, and a lack of interest in anything. If you are suffering or think you may be suffering from PND, then it is very important that you seek help. There are some contacts at the end of this booklet.
“I’ve experienced two long bouts of PND. I have a history of depressive illness so before I even had my children I was warned that I was at a higher risk for PND. My GP referred me to a team at King’s who monitored me throughout my three pregnancies and in the postnatal period. I was also allocated a brilliant midwife team who specialise in caring for women who are likely to suffer from PND.
New mothers can be very critical of themselves and of others. I remember telling one fellow playgroup goer that I was so unhappy that I wanted to give up my son for adoption. The look of horror and condemnation on her face will stay with me forever. However you should tell people that you are feeling overwhelmed or low and, if you speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP they will listen and make suggestions or referrals for further help.
The treatment I had was a combination of antidepressants and CBT (talking therapy) and I was encouraged to find help with the practical things such as cooking, cleaning and childcare. If you are exhausted you don’t have the energy to look after children and the guilt from this can be a contributor to depression. It’s a vicious circle. In my case I would look at other mothers in the park, playing, laughing and smiling with their babies and children and just feel empty inside, which of course made the feeling of uselessness worse.
When the psychologist reminded me that all we see is a snapshot of anyone’s life, I was able to put my feelings in perspective and started to feel better. Please just remember that PND is very treatable and the sooner it is identified, the sooner you can start getting better and enjoying your lovely family.”
Eleanor, from Herne Hill, mum to Nicholas and Alexander, 6, William, 4 and Edward, 2
For information on support for Postnatal depression (PND) see Here to help