Postnatal depression creates anxious journey for mum

Donna Norman has a great relationship with her children Tien (left) and Tyrin Norman after overcoming her battle with postnatal depression.
Donna Norman has a great relationship with her children Tien (left) and Tyrin Norman after overcoming her battle with postnatal depression. Lee Constable

WHILE her newborn baby slept, Mackay mum Donna Norman's chest contracted tightly and her heart beat fast as anxiety rattled her body.

She said during her battle with postnatal depression, after the birth of her second child, she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and confusion.

But she sought help by calling Parent Line, and just hours later a social worker was talking to her face to face.

"I was confused because it wasn't like this with my first child," she said.

"It was just anxiety all the time. When he was sleeping I would constantly check him, worried he wouldn't be breathing, but then I would dread when he woke up."

Ms Norman is not alone. New research from the Bupa Health Foundation Maternal Mental Health Survey found one in 10 Australian women face pregnancy-related depression. Their study also found women often wait up to a month to seek help.

Ms Norman was able to overcome her battle early because she sought help straight away.

"I think the longer you wait to get help, the harder it becomes," she said. For seven weeks her newborn son was cared for by foster parents while she got well.

"As a mother I felt like a complete failure," she said.

Yesterday the Mackay mum talked about her two teenagers, Tien and Tyrin, with pride.

"We have our ups and downs, but I have good relationships with both of them."

Bupa Health Foundation steering committee member Dr Stan Goldstein said while it was important to raise awareness and acceptance about the realities of maternal mental health, the key was turning that awareness into meaningful support.

"It's concerning that there is still a stigma surrounding pregnancy related depression, especially when you consider that depression can lead to worse health outcomes for both mothers and children in the future," he said.


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Topics:  families parenting postnatal depression

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