Postnatal Depression

Suzanne is 21 years old and is studying midwifery. Suzanne decided to get involved with Student Life because she wants to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health conditions during pregnancy and up to a year following birth.  

The body goes through a lot of changes throughout pregnancy and following birth, including some women experiencing the “baby blues”. The “baby blues” include feelings of tearfulness and feeling overwhelmed within the first week after giving birth. It is important to realise that the “baby blues” do not last long, so any symptoms similar that do not pass within 2 weeks of birth, or that start later, may signify postnatal depression (PND). 

Recognising the signs and symptoms of PND can be the first steps to getting the support needed to help make a full recovery, as around 1 in 10 women are affected by PND within a year of giving birth. It is normal to have good days and bad days, however if these symptoms are felt most days then it may be PND. It can occur suddenly or gradually and includes feeling tearful, worthless, unable to cope, irritable, guilty and hostile towards your partner and/or baby. Women who experience these symptoms may lose concentration and interest in the wider world, find it hard to sleep, have a reduced appetite and may find it difficult to bond with their baby. PND can also affect partners too, hence the importance of being aware of any behavioural changes. 

Speaking up about concerns about PND within yourself or your partner/family member/friend means that you no longer have to struggle in silence. There are a range of effective treatments available for PND, such as self-help, psychological therapy and medication, which health visitors, midwives and GP’s can help to refer you to the right service. Joining local baby groups where you can meet other mothers and fathers who may share similar anxieties and frustrations could help you not feel alone.

Be kind to yourself, the expectations of parenting may not always be met and may be different to others’ expectations. Try and accept the help from family and friends when you feel you can, as the love and emotional support that they can provide could aid recovery. PND is an illness and not your fault – it does not reflect how you are as a parent.