Postnatal Depression is Not the Baby Blues
Postnatal depression literally sucks all the fun and enjoyment out of having a baby and instead turns it into a sad, angry, anxious, resentful and distressing time. PND makes the day to day life of caring for your new twins so much harder, with simple tasks being almost impossible to do.
So tired that all you want to do is sleep and having the desire to run away and leave everything behind is so common with PND, but sadly many new Mums simply think that is how it’s supposed to be. Well, it’s not and we’re here to not only explain what postnatal depression is, but also who gets it, what the signs and symptoms are and where you can go for help!
What is Post Natal Depression?
Postnatal depression is not the baby blues. Nearly all Mums suffer from the baby blues and feel sad, anxious, angry or hopeless during the first two weeks after the birth of their twins. PND is when those feelings last longer and don’t seem to be getting better. It can happen anywhere from straight after the birth of your twins, right up to when they are 12 months old.
The scary thing is, any Mum can get it, regardless of whether you have suffered from depression or any other mental illness before as PND does not discriminate. On average, about 8-13% of all new Mums suffer from PND at some stage, though in twin Mums this can be higher. With more effort required to care for two babies instead of one, around 16-26% of twin Mums suffer from postnatal depression.
The signs and symptoms of PND can include some or many of the following:
- Crying a lot
- Feeling sad
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling numb
- Having thoughts of harming yourself or your babies
- Being angry and you don’t know why
- Worrying that they just can’t cope
- Struggle to care for yourself or your babies
- Loss of appetite
- No interest in things which used to give you joy
- Trouble sleeping even when your babies are
- Anxious that something is going to happen to your babies
- Feel incredibly tired
- Unable to make decisions
- Not motivated to do anything
- Large periods of emptiness where you don’t remember what happened
- Non or little enjoyment of anything
- Aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Resentment towards your babies
- Negative thoughts
Postnatal Depression Does Not Go Away by Itself
PND is more than just feeling sad. It’s an overwhelming combination of feeling angry, helpless, scared, anxious and upset. It is NOT something which will get better on its own with time and does require the help from a professional trained in this area.
Postnatal depression not only affects a new Mum, but also her babies. That’s why it is absolutely vital if you or someone you know could possibly be suffering from PND, get help quick! PND makes the day to day life of caring for your new twins so much harder, with simple tasks being almost impossible to do.
Finding Help for Mums with PND
It’s really important to seek help if you or somebody else is suffering from PND, even if you don’t know for certain. Talking with a professional such as your GP, midwife or Plunket Nurse will let you explain how you are feeling and then they can do a quick assessment to see if you do have any of the signs or symptoms. If you do, that’s perfectly ok and it is nothing to be ashamed about. Instead, it is great news that they know and can help put into place a wide range of strategies to help you feel better again. In fact, it is far easier to deal with PND if you are receiving help, whether that is with medicine, counselling, home help or a listening ear.
If you don’t feel brave enough to speak to a health professional, choose a friend or family member whom you trust to chat with first instead. You are also able to take a support person with you to see a health professional and they can help explain how you are feeling on your behalf.
If you do have PND, don’t stress that you will be put onto antidepressants and turn into a zombie or anything. The truth is, antidepressants will only be prescribed with your consent, no one can make you take them and the ones used by new Mums nowadays are incredibly safe for you and your babies, even if you breastfeed. In saying that, antidepressants are only part of the help available for new Mums with postnatal depression.
There are many websites which contain more information about post natal depression and support services which can help you, as well as our article on Support Services for Twin Mums which identifies assistance you may be eligible for.
How Friends and Family Can Help Mums with PND
Friends and family are a great support system too. While you may not have the experience with or knowledge about postnatal depression, you do know this new Mum. You can help her by:
- Being a listening ear. Avoid judging her or giving advice. Just listen to her.
- Encourage her to get professional help. Go with her to appointments if necessary.
- Bake or cook for her. Bring meals and snacks around to her home.
- Babysit her older kids and even her twins. Give her time to catch up on sleep, read a book, have a shower, go for a walk etc.
- Help with the housework. Folding the washing, doing the dishes or mowing the lawns are all jobs which are going to be low on her to-do list at the moment, so do them for her.
- Reassure her this is not her fault and it will get better.
- Avoid offering advice. PND is not a quick fix solution. Listening is a better choice.
- Be there without strings. If you get yelled at, ignored or cried on, it is all part of PND. Just be there for her, regardless.
- Ask for help. If you feel she needs more help, then ask on her behalf. If you feel that you too may be suffering from depression, then also ask for help for you!
Postnatal depression is a nightmare, but it does pass. With professional support and the love and help from family and friends, you will start enjoying life and your twins again.
Do you or did you suffer from PND? What did you find the most helpful during your time with PND? What support did you get and what made the greatest difference in your journey back to wellness?