This week is Pre and Postnatal Depression Awareness Week.
A subject that can’t have too much coverage, or be talked about too much, in my opinion.
Thankfully, PND is becoming a more ‘mainstream’ topic to discuss nowadays, and is somewhat starting to lose it’s ‘taboo’ factor, however we have a long way to go.
Many mothers suffer from the ongoing pressures of PND – many undiagnosed, and therefore with no recognition or support. But often, even despite having a diagnosis, support is lacking. We want to help change that.
Many of the wonderful mummies who come to our postnatal exercise classes in Northern Ireland, are experiencing, or have experienced PND. I’ve had my taste of it for sure, and Chief Victoria has previously talked openly about her struggles with PND in early motherhood.
We find ourselves questioning when it exactly started, how and why. There are various reasons why some women experience PND and others don’t. Why some suffer quite badly from it, and others experience just a whiff of depression. And why some are diagnosed promptly with correct support put in place, and others struggle on in silence with what they’re told is ‘just the baby blues’!
We often attribute it to something along the lines of ‘the pressures of motherhood’. That kind of wraps up a whole lot of reasons, eh! Motherhood is damn hard! That will do. But we know it’s not so simple to put everyone in to the same little box. So there is still a lot of work to be done.
I have often thought, that there is one area that we don’t often affiliate the beginnings of PND with. Pregnancy!
Pregnancy? How can Post Natal Depression formulate during Pregnancy, I hear you ask?
Well, hear me out.
I know society tells us that pregnancy is the most wonderful time in a woman’s life – apart from the odd bit of morning sickness and achy back, but sure that’s all part of the ‘fun’ journey of growing your baby, right?
There are many reasons why pregnancy is not the most enjoyable experience in the world for women. Just like motherhood! We put so much expectation and anticipation on to these ‘events’, that if we experience anything that’s less than perfect, it can lead to a whirlwind of feelings, including guilt, panic and depression.
Pregnancy can be an extremely anxiety-provoking time for many women. This can be due to medical concerns, financial concerns, relationship concerns, self-doubt of their own ability as a mother, fear, and many many more powerful, negative emotions, not to mention hormonal imbalances.
Therefore, pregnancy can actually be part of, if not the sole, deep rooted cause of establishing depression leading in to motherhood. PANDAS Foundation (Pre and Post Natal Depression Advice and Support) tells us that 1 in 5 women will develop a mental health issue either during pregnancy or in the first year afterwards , and there is a 1 in 3 chance of depression carrying on in to the post natal period.
We don’t often recognise and talk about Pre-Natal Depression, so I am glad that the PANDAS Foundation is this year focusing on Pre-Natal Mental Health during #PNDAW17 and helping to raise awareness of the prevalence and issues surrounding it. They provide fantastic information and support around mental health in pregnancy and motherhood, and I would recommend them as a point of contact for any mums reading this who may just want a bit of support and guidance.
I’m also very pleased to say that in Northern Ireland we have started to see our own growing support network and awareness of this subject. One major force, leading the way is the amazing Lindsday Robinson, from Have You Seen That Girl?. Lindsay has experience of Maternal Mental Health herself and is an advocate for raising awareness and support networks for mums in Northern Ireland. I am very honoured to say that Tribal Fitness contributes to her amazing Bags of Hope, that reach many mums in need of support. Tribal Fitness is also very excited to be working alongside Lindsay in various collaboration events to help reach and support local mums, to help improve their overall health and well-being.
So, throughout #PNDAW17 and going forward, it would be great if we could all be a bit more mindful that your happy-go-lucky pregnant friend, or that friendly new mum you met in baby group, or that lady in the park rubbing her pregnant tummy with one hand and pushing a pram with the other, may not actually be sailing through on a cloud of euphoria, despite how they may appear. Let’s recognise that they may need a little more patience, support and guidance.
Let’s start breaking down the barriers and talking about Pre and Post Natal Depression.
It’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Break the silence.