It’s Not just a mom thing

Your Baby & Toddler - - [Newborn Guide] -

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.

Ques­tion

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.

Ques­tion

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.

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