Here is some of the data around mental health after birth. It’s not here to scare you, its here to let you know that you are not alone and why it is so important that we seek support, guidance and where we can find it, love. Even if it is just some care and love for ourselves.
- – Mild depression is common to many new mothers (approximately 50%).
- – 10 – 20% of new moms will experience a more severe form of depression known as postpartum or perinatal depression, which can interfere with daily life.
- – Postpartum psychosis is a rare, serious mental illness that affects one in 500 to 1000 new mothers. The onset is usually within the first six weeks after delivery and may cause the mother to completely lose touch with reality.
The depression and anxiety experienced by many women after a miscarriage can continue for years, even after the birth of a healthy child.
- – The numbers to the above statistics are likely higher since so many cases go unreported. This suggests that something significant is missing in the way we approach the postpartum time.
- – In the Far East, Southeast Asia, India, many nations of South America and Africa and in Muslim societies around the world, there are varying practices for the postpartum time. They go by different names, a few being confinement (English term used in Asia) and zuò yuèzi (Mandarin for “sitting moon”), ansei (Japanese for “peace and quiet”), but they have several things in common.
- – They are an expected part of pregnancy—not just for live births and not just for the wealthy. In fact, any woman from a culture that practices traditional postpartum care would be shocked to learn how women in the west essentially receive nothing in the way of a recovery routine.
- – They last approximately 30–60 days. Amy Wong, an internationally acclaimed author and expert on postpartum writes, “Natural delivery requires at least 30 days of rest, while cesarean delivery, miscarriage and abortion require at least 40 days” (Wong 2012, 11).
- – They involve constant support, physical and emotional, for the mother and baby. An experienced female family member or a hired professional may provide this care.
- – They involve a diet of specific foods and herbs for the mother’s rapid return to vitality and her ability to produce abundant, highly nutritious milk.
- – The mother is supported and natural remedies are offered in case of nursing problems.
- – Specific, gentle exercises are encouraged to support the mother’s return to strength. In China, the exercises come with inspiring names such as “Get Rid of Big Fat Butt” and “Improve No Saggy Breast.”
- – They involve certain prohibitions to protect the mother’s health (i.e., no consumption of cold beverages, no exposure to cold air/wind).
- – These practices are considered vital for the mother’s short- and long-term health and her subsequent pregnancies.
- – Postnatal depression effects 1 in 7 women who give birth in Australia each year
- – Depression affects up to 1 in 10 women while they are pregnant and almost 1 in 7 women during the first year after birth. Anxiety is likely to be at least as common
- – 1 in 10 fathers will experience postnatal depression
- – Low mood affects around 50% of new mothers in the first weeks after delivery (baby blues), but this is usually mild and transient
- – Puerperal (postpartum) psychosis is a very rare, but severe mental health condition that is experienced by 1 0r 2 in 1,000 in the weeks after having a baby