Mothers of multiples are at a higher risk of experiencing PND – 20% (approximately 1 in 5) mothers of twins and 27% of mothers of triplets are diagnosed by their health professional as suffering from postnatal depression.
Depression can come in different forms, ranging from a short period of mild depression, the ‘baby blues’ which affect almost half of all mothers in the first few days after birth, to a more intense and long-lasting postnatal depression (PND).
The Baby Blues can be described as a brief period of anxiety, sadness and mood swings which occurs in some women after delivering a baby/ies and usually resolves itself within a week.
Postnatal Depression (PND) can be described as depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from a combination of psychological adjustment to motherhood, hormonal changes and fatigue. PND often starts within one or two months of giving birth but it can also start several months after having a baby.
PND may begin during pregnancy, with some women tracing their depression back to the positive pregnancy test or finding out they were expecting multiples at the scan. More commonly, you may find PND developing after the babies’ birth, with the baby blues getting progressively worse as time goes on. Other women do not develop PND until much later; often several months after their babies are born.
Fathers and PND Its less commonly known about, but fathers can also experience PND too. Two brave Dad of twins have shared their experiences of PND with us, you can read them here.
How should you expect to feel if you have postnatal depression? There are several symptoms to recognise and these include:
Depression – low mood for prolonged periods of time (a week or more), feeling miserable, sad, worthless
Feeling irritable for a lot of the time
Lack of energy and motivation
Lack of interest in yourself and your new babies
Panic attacks or feeling trapped in your life
Obsessional and inappropriate thoughts
Feeling a failure, that you’re not a good mother
Becoming withdrawn – not wanting to see people
Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
Physical signs of tension, such as headaches, stomach pains, or blurred vision
Insomnia and problems sleeping
Changes in appetite - either loss of appetite or, less often, eating more than usual
Loss of interest in sex or intimacy
On their own, these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have PND. If you think you are experiencing postnatal depression, please speak to a health visitor, doctor or midwife who can make a diagnosis, using a screening questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score (EPDS).”
For more info on PND please download our PND guide.
Our sincere thanks goes to these two brave mothers who have shared their experiences of PND with us. They are an inspiration to all and we do hope that their stories will encourage other multiple birth mothers and fathers who are struggling, to seek out and get help.
If you are finding things difficult and would like to speak to one of our Twinline volunteer listeners they can provide you with a listening ear. Call our freephone helpline Twinline (which is open every day from 10am-1pm and from 7pm-10pm) on 0800 138 0509 or you can also email Asktwinline@tamba.org.uk
Suzette Jones is a Health & Wellbeing Adviser for the Diocese of Guildford. In these videos Suzette answers some frequently asked questions regarding perinatal mental health for multiple birth mothers and fathers
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