I’m writing this having spent the last 30 minutes playing with my five-month-old daughter, who gives me so much pleasure and makes me smile every day, writes Jason Hanson.
Whilst I was reflecting and considering an appropriate topic for my column, it suddenly dawned on me that not every parent will have the same experience of a young baby.
Some will feel ambivalence, others potentially more negative feelings still.
In 2017 a study found that on average between 10-15 per cent of women who are having a baby are affected by what is clinically known as post-natal depression (PND).
You may also see it referred to as post-partum depression.
An individual with post-natal depression tends to display the same symptoms as depression, usually with symptoms being evident every day for at least two weeks.
Post-natal depression can be extremely challenging as it can affect a woman’s ability to not only look after her baby, but also herself.
It can also be very difficult for a partner as they are effectively trying to balance the needs of their baby with trying to support their spouse.
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Most of us associate having a child with joy and pleasure.
But for some, sadly life can quickly become overwhelming and they are unable to cope.
Whilst it is not common for mothers to actually harm their babies, sometimes a new mum may worry that this will happen, potentially through lack of sleep accompanied with a baby crying uncontrollably.
However, arguably what is more common is this having a further negative impact on a mother’s mental health, rather than her having any ill feelings toward her baby.
People ask how you could have such ambivalence toward something which you have created, something which is synonymous with innocence and vulnerability
The answer to this of course is that, it is an illness and not something which a new mum will actively choose.
There can often be a delay in women seeking help because they are unaware they are actually experiencing post-natal depression.
Instead they feel it is a very natural reaction to becoming a new mum and all that entails.
Put simply, unless you have been in that position, it is very difficult to understand post-natal depression.
It is another condition where there is a lack of understanding and at times, also a lack of sympathy.
It is more common than you may think, and the question needs to be raised as to what a mother must be feeling to experience the emotions and thoughts associated with post-natal depression.
PND is treatable and mothers do come through it with support.
It is important, if you are a partner or loved one, to be vigilant for changes in moods and behaviours.
If you become aware of this it is always worth speaking to the individual and asking them how they are feeling and coping.
Whilst it may be a difficult subject to broach, the positives of being right outweigh the negatives of being wrong.
Jason Hanson is a Mansfield counsellor. Visit his website here.