It’s Not just a mom thing
When one part of a family is hurting or damaged, it can be really hard to see the effects on the others. New research highlights the effect of PND on men and we are starting to acknowledge that dads may suffer from PND too. The huge life change and weight
the scale of PND
As many as 30 percent of moms experience some form of postnatal distress, which encompasses a wide range of conditions, from baby blues to postnatal psychosis.
The postnatal distress we refer to as the baby blues is very mild and short lived. Baby blues are usually limited to the first few days after delivery and are strongly influenced by hormonal shifts. You may feel overwhelmed, sad, dependent and vulnerable. You may have difficulty sleeping and experience high levels of anxiety. However, these feelings do not linger and within a week or two you will feel very different, and look back on the feelings as opposed to still having them.
On the opposite end of the continuum is postnatal psychosis. This is the most severe form of postnatal distress. It is rare but exceptionally dangerous as the mom poses a risk to herself and/or her baby, and often the mom is out of touch with the severity of her symptoms. She may even hallucinate or have episodes of mania. Postnatal psychosis is grounds for admission to hospital.
Postnatal depression, which is somewhere in the middle
of the range, is experienced differently by each person who suffers from it. Some moms feel very sad and have no energy or will to engage with their babies, while others are so anxious that they don’t interact with their little ones out of fear of harming them. Many moms feel angry, particularly towards their partners, and may resent the world for going on while they feel trapped in a dark tunnel.
No matter what your experience is, you should chat about it with someone – be it your partner, a friend or family member, your doctor or clinic nurse. After the birth of my first baby, I experienced baby blues for a short period. It would raise its ugly head each evening at about the same time, and I would feel myself being sucked into a dark tunnel. I would feel utter dread for the night ahead and an inability to think about how I would cope the next day. My saving grace was my mom, who would talk me through it. Having someone sit with me while I felt so desolate was a great help.
What PND does
PND affects not only your ability to carry out daily tasks such as planning meals,
getting yourself dressed, simple chores and caring for your baby, but it also affects the way you interact with your partner and engage with your baby. Many women feel brittle and quite angry towards their partners – it feels unfair that he can escape the bulk of responsibility of this new life. Of course this is not a logical feeling or thought, but then not much is logical when you feel this distressed. In addition, PND can impact on your interaction with your baby. It may prevent you from spontaneously engaging, making eye contact and responding to your baby’s little coos. On an emotional level this has negative effects on your baby.
It is these two effects of PND that pose a great risk for your future. Risking your relationship with your partner and not connecting with your new baby can have devastating long term consequences. It is for this reason that you should seek help as soon as possible.
What to do
If you think you may have PND the first step is to find out if you do. PNDSA (the Post Natal Depression Support Association) has an amazing website – have a look at www.pndsa.org.za. Here you can take an online test to see if you have PND. This would be the first step in the right direction. From there you can find the right intervention to help you manage your PND. You can also talk to your doctor for a diagnosis. yb
anxiety to settle and for him to feel more confident and capable of taking care of another human being. Women do, at times, take the nurturing role for granted. Men, through the centuries, have been taught they have to provide, and nurturing is a new role for them that has to be learnt.
At what age is my baby going to be especially sensitive to developing a nappy rash and how can I prevent this? NURSING SISTER BURGIE IRELAND ANSWERS: Teething babies (usually around six months) tend to get nappy rash more easily for a few reasons. First they dribble a lot, simply because they like to chew on anything hard and cold (it helps soothe their irritated gums) and this makes their urine more acidic – some moms even say they can smell the ammonia in the morning nappies. Babies also tend to get a runny tummy because they’re exposed to more germs than before because of everything they’re mouthing ( and because they tend to become a bit more mobile around this age). Acidic urine and soft stools are a good combination for creating nappy rash. You can help prevent nappy rash by washing your baby’s bottom with soap and water every nappy change, drying it well and applying a barrier cream. Use quality disposable nappies and change your baby ASAP when there is a poo.
My baby’s face is covered in little pimples. I thought baby skin was supposed to be smooth and glowing, but he looks more like a teenager to me! What’s going on? DR PAUL SINCLAIR ANSWERS: Babies are often born with milia (little white spots). These are sebaceous retention cysts that pop up on the face as little white bumps. They are congenital and you should never try to pop or squeeze them.
Baby acne is also quite common in the early days, especially in little boys, as a result of the hormones that are still in their systems. It starts as blackheads on the nose and moves towards the cheeks and sometimes even the chin. It then forms pustules and it’s important not to undertreat it as it often leaves baby boys with little pockmarks – so don’t try to pop them or scratch at them. You can use a sensitive cleanser on these. Baby acne usually appears at around three to four weeks, and if it doesn’t clear up on its own after a few weeks, you need to see a doctor for treatment as it can be quite severe among some babies.