All parents go through a period of adjustment when they begin to adapt to the huge changes a baby brings.   You’re not the only ones trying to figure out how to settle a screaming baby or conquer the muslin wrap.  All new parents are in the same boat.  However, in some cases postnatal depression or anxiety can be diagnosed.

Postnatal Depression

If you are struck by the ‘baby blues’ between the third and tenth day after giving birth you are not alone! This is due to changes in hormone levels following childbirth. Feelings of being overwhelmed and tearful usually pass within a few days without any specific care apart from understanding and support.

So what is the difference between the ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression?

Depression during pregnancy or in early parenthood has the same set of symptoms as at any other time in our life. However, it can be a little harder to identify and deal with when you’re pregnant or have a baby.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between the changes that come with being a new parent  and the symptoms of depression.  Such as changes in sleeping or appetite, as they overlap.

Bringing home a new baby is a time when everything is different and challenging. It can be hard to know whether your reactions and emotions are within the ‘normal’ range. Especially when your life with a new baby is feeling pretty far from what you are used to!

Postnatal Anxiety

Everyone feels anxious at times.  Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations and all us humans suffer from it!  Anxiety is a hard-wired part of our survival instinct and helps tell us if there’s something significant happening. It might be a dangerous situation to avoid, or a task we need to get done quickly. Believe it or not, we actually perform better with a certain amount of anxiety. This is most relevant when we are faced with parenting a new baby.

When should I see a Psychologist for postnatal depression or anxiety? 

Most of the time the nervousness we’re feeling goes away once the stressful situation has passed. If you are experiencing anxiety, it can be hard to get these feelings under control. You might feel anxious without any particular reason. If left untreated, anxiety can make it difficult to enjoy your pregnancy and getting to know your baby, as well as harder to cope with the challenges of caring for a newborn.

Stress and becoming a parent

Becoming a parent can be a pretty stressful time – everything’s new and it can take a while to find your feet. Add in difficulties with sleeping, feeding or settling your baby into the mix and things can start to feel overwhelming. If your anxious feelings are getting in the way of daily life, it’s time to seek support.

For some great information about postnatal depression and anxiety, as well the adjusting to parenthood, check out PANDA’s Survive & Thrive Podcast here.

Email Happy Minds Psychology at [email protected] or use the contact form below to get in touch. 

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