Perhaps you are pregnant or maybe you’re a new mum? This blog is for you. Giving birth is a big life event for any woman. It supposedly the greatest experience in your life, bearing a child of your own. But hang on… what if it just doesn’t feel that way? What if after giving birth you find yourself feeling lost and sad? This is a reality many women have to face.
At Riverstone Family Dental, we look after many new mums. Call us if you need a local, caring family dentist: 8678 3538.
In Australia, 1 in every 7 women experiences depression within a year of giving birth. Think of your closest 7 gal pals. One of them may have suffered or will suffer postnatal depression. Postnatal depression can affect the mother or father after having a baby.
Why are we susceptible to postnatal depression? It’s a mixture of the changes that occur in your hormones and lifestyle. Having a baby is a big milestone and with that comes intense emotions and a drastic change to a couple’s lifestyle. It is normal to feel anxious, confused, happy or overwhelmed. As you cope to having a newborn in your life, it is normal to experience “baby blues”. Baby blues have been linked to the drastic change in hormone levels a few days after giving birth. It lasts no more than 2 to 3 days. If you experience baby blues, you may feel very emotional, irritable and sad. Giving birth and taking care of a new baby are very difficult and it is understandable to feel like this. However, bear in mind that if these symptoms go on for more than 3 days then you may be experiencing postnatal depression.
Causes and Symptoms
Being a new mum comes with a lot of pressures and expectations. This, combined with the physical toll of labour and looking after a newborn can contribute to the development of postnatal depression. It can also commonly affect mothers who have a history of mental health problems. And guess what? A mother’s social interaction plays a big role, so ladies join a new mums group or have your friends and family nearby for support.
Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- having trouble bonding with your newborn
- negative thoughts
- intense feelings of sadness and low self-esteem
- not caring about things
- lack of energy or problems sleeping
- having trouble concentrating
- withdrawing contact from friends and family
Postnatal depression can be managed with psychological therapy, medication, self-help, and support groups. Psychological therapy involves seeing a counsellor or psychologist and undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or a self-help course for treatment. CBT is a fantastic tool for overcoming postnatal depression, see your GP for a referral to a practitioner that does this. Another treatment option is taking anti-depressants. These can be selectively chosen to ensure they are safe if you are breastfeeding.
I believe greater awareness and acceptance is required in the area of postnatal depression. Be aware of yourself and your partner’s feelings. If negative feelings are lingering then please see your doctor as soon as possible.
Effects on Oral Health
Oral health problems increase during pregnancy and postnatal depression can make it worse. While pregnant, women are at risk of developing or worsening gum disease due to hormonal changes, tooth decay from sweet cravings combined with acidity from morning sickness, and wearing down of tooth enamel caused by acid from morning sickness and acid reflux. Alarmingly, studies have also found a link between periodontal disease (gum and bone infection) and premature birth, increasing the risk by 8 times. The effects of postnatal depression to oral health are primarily due to neglecting self-care such as tooth brushing and flossing. It may be associated with:
- decreased saliva flow and dryness of mouth
- rampant dental decay
- development or progression of periodontal disease
I hope you have found this blog helpful. If you are suffering from postnatal depression, you are not alone. Remember to reach out to your doctor for help. If you need your teeth looked at, call Riverstone Family Dental on 8678 3538.