Even if you’re happy about becoming a mother, having a baby may still feel like a change that you’re not quite prepared for. You may feel overwhelmed and powerless, as though you’re not ready to handle your new life. This is all completely normal; the problem comes in when these feelings don’t seem to go away and they turn into postnatal depression. But help is always at hand, and these difficult feelings are nothing to be ashamed of.
According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, there are three types of postnatal (also known as postpartum) depression:
Having postnatal depression can feel like a huge burden to bear, so it’s very important that a new mom gets help – and the sooner, the better. For some women, it lasts less than two weeks; for others it can go on for months to one year, and for a few women, it may take several years to get back on their feet.
What can you do?
The first step toward improving your situation is to talk about how you feel. Putting your feelings into words will begin to lighten your load. It also makes it easier for those around you to help out.
Start with your partner. The more open you are with each other, the easier it will be to get through this difficult time. Your immediate family and closest friends can also be of great help. As a single parent, you really need other adults with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings.
You may need to see your GP, who will refer you to a councillor or a psychiatrist, and you may need to take medication and/or undergo therapy to help you cope better. Research shows that postnatal depression passes, and that it does so quicker if you get help; so ask for help. There really is nothing to be ashamed of. Remember – help is out there. You're not alone.
If you think you may be suffering from the ‘baby blues’, or something more serious, contact the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837; the Cipla WhatsApp Chat Line on 076 882 2775; or Lifeline on 0861 322 322