Having a baby is a fantastic experience for both the mother and father! Even the grandparents actually! However having a baby can change a lot of things for the woman, and it is quite common for women to suffer from depression after childbirth.
This depression after childbirth is commonly known as postpartum or postnatal depression. This is a mixture of emotional, physical and behavior changes that affect the mother after delivering her baby. Depression can also occur during pregnancy, but it is more common after delivery of the baby.
Depression after childbirth occurs because there are hormonal changes in the woman's body. Around 70% of pregnant women experience depression after childbirth, however it does not have to affect the mother immediately. It can take up to a year for postnatal depression to become apparent.
During pregnancy the woman's levels of estrogen and progesterone rise, and 24 hours after giving birth the levels of these hormones drop rapidly to their normal levels. Scientists believe that this sudden change in female hormone levels can trigger depression in some women. This is backed up, because small changes in hormone levels can cause the woman's mood to change.
A lot of things change after delivering the baby, the amount of blood in the body, immune system and the blood pressure all change. These changes can alter how a person feels about themselves, which can result in fatigue and mood swings. The exact cause of childbirth depression is not known, however as not every woman suffers from it, it's likely that lifestyle affects it.
This depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated, because doctors just don't notice these effects as being anything abnormal. Tiredness, sleeping problems, and changes in body weight are all normal changes, that happen to a woman's body during and after pregnancy, however these symptoms can also indicate depression.
Postnatal depression can be caused by:
Lack of support.
Previous pregnancy complications.
Young age of mother.
The most common cause of depression after childbirth is drug or substance abuse, lack of support from family members, problems with previous pregnancies, mother's young age, and doubting your own ability to look after your baby. You can see most of the causes of depression are emotional and not physical.
Women need to snap out of the idea of having to be the perfect mum, because this can add to the stress. Also spending less time alone with your husband can cause depression after childbirth.
Baby blues and depression are two different things. Baby blues happen straight after childbirth, and normally disappear in under a week, but postnatal depression can strike any time during the first year and often doesn't go away.
Be very aware if you have symptoms of Postnatal depression, because it is something that must be treated by your doctor.