Fact: one out of every seven Australian women who give birth each year will develop postnatal depression. It’s an alarming statistic, but new research has identified a link between the condition and a natural (but not essential) part of motherhood:
In a study carried out by The Priory, 80 per cent of over 1000 new parents surveyed admitted that nursing struggles significantly impacted their mindset.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Kathryn Hollins, who specialises in the mental health of both parents and children, puts this down to a lack of accessible support in the area.
“I am convinced that many mums would be breastfeeding their babies happily and for longer if early help from professionals and experiences mothers was available at the exact moments when mums are faced with a screaming, hungry baby who hasn’t quite worked out how to ‘latch on,’” she explained.
“Practical help and emotional support is needed now. In the UK this doesn’t usually happen. We set mums up to ‘fail.’”
Dr Hollins believes this feeling of failure acts as a trigger - a claim that’s also backed up by a study published in the Journal of Maternal and Child Health that found that those who planned to breastfeed but couldn’t were 2.5 times more likely to develop postnatal depression.
“New mums need to be gently encouraged to explore all reasons as to why breastfeeding might not be working for them – and that an excessive amount of pressure, although well-intentioned, from health professionals and peers may do more harm than good,” Dr Hollins added.