The antenatal period is a good time for pregnant women and their partners to seek support regardless of whether he or she is feeling depressed. It is also a time of exploration of their expectations of life as new parents, their fears, concerns and questions. For some men and women this period may also involve depression and anxiety - Antenatal Depression.
Antenatal and postnatal depression are two of the complications that can arise during and following pregnancy and delivery. Couples are told a great deal about the physical changes they can expect when having a baby and how to care for the baby. The emotional changes accompanying the antenatal and postnatal periods deserve the same attention.
Presenting information about antenatal and postnatal depression in antenatal classes and appointments will help to prepare couples for the possibility of antenatal and postnatal depression. Part of this process will be to inform men and women, even those who may never develop antenatal or postnatal depression about these conditions.
Couples in antenatal classes need to know that:
- Antenatal and postnatal depression can happen to any new mother and father;
- Antenatal and postnatal depression are not anyone's fault;
- The early signs are recognisable; and
- Help is available.
Health professionals who are providing antenatal care must be able to view childbearing women and their families holistically. It is important that they are able to recognise the early signs of antenatal and postnatal depression, especially since women tend to hide their feelings behind a mask of normality. Asking the right questions can encourage her to talk about her concerns and prevent depression and anxiety making childbirth and early parenting more difficult. Once identified extra supports and care can be established to ensure the new parents and family are adequately supported.
These health care services include Midwives, Obstetricians and Shared Care General Practitioners across the public and private sectors.