Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

As an 'expert by experience' on postnatal illness I endeavour to keep up to date with useful resources around the subject, to expand my knowledge and to pass on to others.

I have just justified being out in the sunshine all morning by reading 'When Baby Brings the Blues' by Dr Ariel Dalfen.

This book is aimed at sufferers and their families affected by postpartum depression - yes, it is American, but readily is applicable to the UK, apart from some of the health professional systems.

It aims to give sufferers a treatment plan to follow. I was very impressed with the evidence-based content but I feel it may be 'too heavy' for those who are severely ill. However for those maybe facing a second pregnancy or just starting to become poorly or in recovery I would recommend it.

I also think health professionals would find it useful too and shall be recommending it.

I discovered a condition know as the baby pinks! As opposed to the baby blues this is postpartum mania when mothers can seem euphoric. I associated with this.

In hindsight I recognised 'me' in there and got quiet angry at times, scaring the birds in the garden with shouts of 'why did no-one tell me?'.
It seems I had many of the risk factors - a poorly pregnancy, a perfectionist nature, complicated birth, stressful events, a colicky baby.
All these were stacked up against me and then with sleep deprivation thrown in on top - I can see now where my signs and symptoms of postnatal illness began to take hold.
I wish I had been given this book then to read - especially Chapter 4 which gives some excellent points on self-help, ranging from how to think more positively, combating anxiety, managing expectations, stop trying to please and ways to get more sleep.
There are chapters on professional help, a good guide to medication, weaving a web of support (emotional, practical, information and advice) plus specific pointers on the relationship with the partner/husband. No-one ever gave Nick and I advice and in hindsight perhaps if we had been shown how to communicate with each other properly then maybe we would still be together. Wallpapering over the cracks doesn't work and just getting on practically is important but doesn't help the deeper issues.
There is a great resource list (mainly USA and Canada) but a very wide bibliography for all the evidence based research. I know the book is aimed at sufferers but from a professional point of view I would have found it useful if this excellent list could have been referenced within the text. But for students looking for a data base of research articles - go for it!

One of Dr Dalfen's suggestions is also to make time for yourself and not to feel guilty - so I am off back out in the garden with a diet coke after I have posted this!!



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