Welcoming a new baby is a big life event. It’s common and natural to experience various emotions after giving birth. Many new parents have a lot of questions, uncertainties and expectations about their new role. However, if this life event greatly interferes with your daily functioning, you may be experiencing a mental health difficulty. Some mental health difficulties which are related to pregnancy and giving birth are perinatal anxiety, perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum psychosis and postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder.

One of the most common mental health difficulties is postnatal depression which is also known as postpartum depression. Postnatal depression is a type of depression that happens to 20% of women after giving birth. Sometimes, the signs and symptoms of depression might not be apparent immediately after giving birth, but might start a few months later. This depression may also affect the people who are close to the woman who has given birth; such as fathers, partners, friends and family, although this is much less common.

It can be very difficult to talk about experiencing difficult emotions and having negative thoughts. This is because most parents feel that they are expected to be happy and excited about welcoming their baby. Many women also struggle with the thought that they are not fit to be mothers or that they are not doing enough. Some individuals might also have negative emotions towards their partners which might not have been present before. Others might wonder whether this is how it will always be and some might even worry that they will not be capable to raise their own children. It is very important to seek help and support from family, friends and health care professionals. There are many treatments for postnatal depression, however it can worsen if left untreated. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that even though you might have many expectations of yourself as a parent, no one is able to meet all their expectations all the time…so it is important to remember to be kind to yourself!

Claire is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on claire@willingness.com.mt.