Clinical Psychologist, Yoga Teacher and mother of two, Dr. Lauren Tober, sheds some light on Postnatal Depression.
Postnatal depression affects many more women than you might think.
Depending upon the literature you read, anywhere between 3.7% and 76.7% of women experience post natal depression after the birth of their baby. In Australia, around 1 in 6 women report post natal depression. That means that statistically, at least one or two women in your prenatal yoga class will go on to experience depression during the early days of their baby’s life.
After their baby is born, many women experience a period of feeling emotional and teary, known as the ‘baby blues,’ but postnatal depression is different.
Women who experience postnatal depression, report a number of the following symptoms over several weeks:
- Feeling sad and low
- Uncontrollable crying or teary for no apparent reason
- Less interested in previously enjoyable activities
- Feeling worthless, irritable, guilty and/or unable to cope
- Feeling scared and alone
- Difficultly thinking, concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thoughts of self harm or harming the baby
In a Melbourne based study, mothers of babies were asked about their feelings in the initial months after childbirth, and 65% reported feeling low or depressed during this time (Gilley, 1993). When asked what helped them during this period, 76% said that talking to someone was helpful. This was followed by changing their attitude (15%) and getting out with the baby (14%).
Mums and Bubs Yoga classes support mothers to do all three of these things.
- Yoga classes enable mothers to get out and about with their babies in a nurturing way.
- In these classes we can encourage our students to connect and talk to each other, and can make the time for our students to speak to us individually.
- It’s not uncommon for students to have a shift in attitude in their classes, as they begin to slow down, take their focus inwards and share authentically with other mothers.
- There are many other things we can do as yoga teachers to support our students, like the practices we teach and the way we listen, but these three simple suggestions are a great place to start, and can have a profound effect on a new mother’s wellbeing.