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I've had a baby, I should be happy why am I finding it so hard

Posted By Fiona Gray  
10:00 AM

A lot of my professional career has been about supporting new mums and dads after they have had a baby. Pregnancy, the arrival of a baby and the first year of life can be a period of adjustment. Adapting to these changes can be challenging and impacts lifestyle routines, family dynamics, roles and identities.

These changes can be overwhelming and you might feel distressed or stuck. This period is also associated with an increased risk of onset or relapse of mental health conditions. 

Perinatal Depression and Perinatal Anxiety affects 100,000 expectant parents each year. Genetics in prior life can play a significant part in its development. Triggers can include biological factors genetics, hormonal changes, psychological factors, personal, family history, and social factors. Complicated birth and an unwell baby can also contribute to stressors.

The website states that 1 in 10 women experience Depression in pregnancy and 1 in 7 experience, Depression in the first year following birth. Evidence-based research on the incidence of perinatal depression in dads is not so well researched. Depression and Anxiety often occur at the same time. The incidence of perinatal anxiety is thought to have an incidence of 1 in 5 women.

The website, suggests 1 in 10 fathers are affected at some point in the perinatal period( conception to the end of the first year of life). 

Perinatal Depression can be described as persistent low mood lasting for longer than 2 weeks, low motivation and negative thoughts, and loss of interest or pleasure in everyday life. Emotional symptoms such as frequent crying, and detachment are also symptoms. 

Perinatal Anxiety symptoms may include, negative thoughts that affect day-to-day living, irritability and emotional outbursts which might lead to extreme fear, panic and overwhelm that's difficult to get under control. Excessive and generalised worry, difficulty concentrating and obsessive-compulsive behaviours can also be symptoms.  

If you are experiencing any of these difficulties, seeking early intervention by health professionals is recommended. Make an appointment to see your GP, Midwife or Maternal Child Health Nurse and they can provide you with a health assessment and direct you to other community supports available.

Here in ACT Perinatal Wellbeing Centre is a community-based non-government organisation providing support to families in the Australian Capital Territory. Primarily funded by ACT Health, the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre has met the requirements under the Mental Health Services Program with Quality Innovation Performance (QIP), assessed against the applicable National Standards for Mental Health Services.

Having someone to talk to during this time can be helpful, so you can also consider whether having some therapeutic support might be helpful. Counselling/Therapy, enables you to express your range of emotions in a safe space and provides someone to listen to you and validate your concerns. Counselling/Therapy can help to empower you, identify strengths and find ways of working on your communication with your partner.

Further local organisations supporting families include

Further National Perinatal support is provided by: