Having a baby can be one of the most exciting – but also challenging – thing you will ever do. There’s nothing wrong with getting some extra support.
If you need immediate support, or if you’ve been having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, Lifeline (13 11 14) and the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) are available 24/7.
Remember, you are not alone and support is available.
For many people, it’s hard to accept they may need support when they’re pregnant or become a parent. Some women think that feelings of distress are a normal part of motherhood and feel that they should be able to cope on their own, or expect the symptoms will pass on their own.
It’s important to remember though that mental health conditions during pregnancy and early parenthood can affect anyone, and it’s important to seek support early.
Who can provide support
There are a range of people who can support you if you’re finding things challenging.
Friends and family
Try to be as open as you can with your family and friends about what you’re going through. Support from family and friends can benefit many women who are experiencing difficulties before or after the birth of a child. For some people, this extra practical or emotional support is enough to set them on the road to recovery.
Midwives or maternal, child and family health nurses
If you’ve been seeing a midwife during pregnancy and/or a maternal and child health nurse after the birth, they’re a good place to start. As well as providing practical support and advice about feeding, sleep and child development, they can help you work out if what you’re going through suggests you may have a mental health condition.
Talking things through with your GP can also be a useful initial step. They can assess your overall health and wellbeing, make a diagnosis and either provide continuing treatment or refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist. Your GP can also work with you to draw up a Mental Health Treatment Plan so you can get a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment.
Try and be as open and honest as possible about how you're feeling and what's going on. Ask plenty of questions and make sure you get clarification on anything you’re not sure about. If you feel that your needs aren’t being met, don’t give up. It can take time to find someone who you can talk comfortably with.
Types of treatment and support
Mental health conditions can be treated effectively, and just like physical conditions, they can be managed. It’s important to seek support as early as you can, as perinatal mental health conditions generally don’t go away on their own.
While there may be a strong instinct to put the needs of your baby or others before your own, at this time it’s important you look after yourself.
Most people with anxiety or depression benefit from one or a combination of the following:
Recovery and staying well
It can be a shock to acknowledge that you might need extra support or treatment, but it can also be a real relief, especially if you have been struggling with symptoms for a while.
- Take small steps, recognise and accept that recovery takes time and some days will be harder than others.
- You don’t have to go it alone – accept support and work towards recovery.
- You are not the only one – many other women and men go through this.
- This is happening to you – it is not your fault. This is a serious condition, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Mental health conditions won’t go away on their own – you must get support.
- The sooner you get support, the sooner you can recover.
You are your baby’s most important asset, and an asset that should be looked after — caring for yourself is as important as caring for your baby.
The most important thing is to talk to a health professional about getting the right treatment that works for you and your family.