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Combating postnatal depression in the perinatal period

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iStock_000049517688LMatternal MH

Postnatal depression (PND) and mothers with PND are never far from the national and regional press. Postnatal depression is part of a range of perinatal maternal illnesses which can be present from pregnancy to the child's first birthday. They range from the mild baby 'blues' to postnatal psychosis which usually requires hospitalisation.

Becoming a mother can be both an exciting and worrying time. The media is full of messages and images of motherhood: the perfect baby that breastfeeds on demand, women achieving a pre-pregnancy body within a few months of delivery, income to match expenditure, a 'loving' and supportive confiding relationship coupled with emotional and practical support from friends and family. The picture painted makes many assumptions and these are rarely the reality.

Any woman, even those that conform to the above, can suffer from the 'blues' following birth. It is usually mild and transient and is reported to affect between 30 and 75 per cent of all new mothers, generally lasting five to 10 days.1

Postnatal depression is persistent and pervasive, with low mood of varying severity and duration, and can be missed by professionals.

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