I don’t think I’m unique in saying that within my circle of family and friends, I know four women who have suffered post-natal depression. That may seem like a lot however currently one in five women will suffer some form of perinatal depression. Anxiety and depression around childbirth is one of the most common yet least discussed medical conditions in Australia.
Beyond the Baby Blues, by Catherine Knox, Benison O’Reilly and Seana Smith, is a comprehensive resource guide for managing perinatal anxiety and depression (a condition which takes into account that depression can occur anytime from conception to one year after birth).
The book covers everything from diagnosis and the types of therapies available to managing relationships, moving forward and the question of whether to have another baby. The book also includes a comprehensive glossary (noted as I think glossaries are all too often left out of books these days) and over forty pages of national and state helplines, groups and institutions that may be of help to those experiencing perinatal depression.
But what makes this book different from others are the deeply personal anecdotes. Peppered throughout each chapter are stories and quotes from people who have had some involvement with perinatal depression, whether sufferers themselves, as health professionals or family. Many of them are heart-wrenching and many also show courage and hope in what can seem a never-ending, bleak situation.
“Becoming a parent is such a tumultuous experience. It can bring great joy and a new experience of love. It can be overwhelmingly exciting. It can also just be overwhelming.”
“At the first session of the new mums’ group….there were thirty-two mums in the room. One of the nurses asked who was still breastfeeding, and applauded the mums that raised their hands… I wanted to stand up and say ‘And who really wanted to breastfeed but can’t and feels like a useless piece of crap?’ But I didn’t. I wish I had.”
“You hear mothers say that they fell in love with their babies the moment they first saw them. I loved her while I was pregnant, but after she was born, I didn’t really feel it… I think I was anxious, and depressed, and stressed, that there just wasn’t room for love.”
It’s in these multitude of stories that people will identify a bit of their own experience and for that reason alone, this book will speak to thousands of people.
“Secret mothers’ business has morphed into the cult of perfection. Perhaps a new theory of parenting is required… grounded in the principle of ‘the good enough mother’.”