Postnatal depression is more prevalent among new mums than we think. In Singapore, about one in 10 new mothers suffer from postnatal depression after giving birth.
If undiagnosed or untreated, postnatal depression manifests in the form of panic attacks, hallucinations, mother-infant detachments, and even suicidal thoughts in new mums. This is why it pays to look out for early signs and symptoms.
To prevent postnatal depression from rearing its ugly head, the following are some helpful tips:
Confide in your husband
It is perfectly normal to experience baby jitters especially if you are a new mum. Even if you are expecting your second or third child, having butterflies in the stomach should not come as a surprise.
How can I cope? How will the elder child cope with having a new sibling? How will the family cope financially? These are valid questions that could keep you awake at night. Brooding over these concerns alone and excessively can place a strain on your emotional well-being.
Recognising your concerns and confiding in your husband is a good start in allaying your worries. Allow your husband to step in to be the emotional pillar that you need before and after delivery. Turn to your husband as a source of security and comfort. Building a support system of family and friends can help create a positive postpartum experience.
Allow for imperfections
Every mum wants nothing but the best for their babies. But wanting the best without allowing room for some imperfections could easily set new mums on the path to postnatal depression.
Any experienced mums will know that newborns can have erratic sleep and feeding habits. Being too uptight about schedules and routines will get you feeling increasingly frustrated as your baby is more likely to upset it.
In fact, there is no need to rush to becoming the perfect mum. Not immediately at least. Instead, give yourself time to ease into your new role. This often means more hiccups and upsets than you would like. Embrace these challenges, lower your expectations and make room for plenty of adjustments.
Hire a confinement nanny
Postnatal depression can strike as early as the first week of giving birth. To take the stress out of having an additional member to the family, hire a confinement nanny to help look after your newborn and yourself.
Give yourself ample time to recuperate especially if you had undergone caesarean. One of the best things about having a confinement nanny is that you have someone to attend to overnight feeds. This is a big relief for many mums as they get to have adequate rest in the night.
Light exercises are great to help reduce anxiety. It helps to release endorphins which makes one feel good. It also increases serotonin blood levels which help to regulate one’s mood for better emotional health.
It could be a leisure stroll in the neighbourhood or some simple stretches at home. Regulate your breathing as you exercise and learn to take deep breaths throughout the day. A daily dosage of 20-minute exercise helps prevent postnatal depression from setting in.
Postnatal depression is a real problem that plagues many new mums. Instead of evading this issue, speak with a family member or medical professional to address the problem. Often times, doctors will prescribe antidepressants to treat the condition. Before you can care for your baby, you have to take care of yourself first.