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Picnics and Parks for Mums with Postnatal Distress

Picnics and Parks for Mums with Postnatal Distress

Postnatal Distress (PND) Awareness Week runs from the 17th to the 25th of November. This year the Perinatal Mental Health NZ Trust has encouraged local PND support groups across the country to organise events such as buggy walks and picnics aimed at raising awareness for the thousands of families touched by postnatal distress each year.

One in six women will experience mental illness in the first year after giving birth. In New Zealand, this equates to around 10,000 women each year. A third of those women will still be experiencing symptoms when their child is two years old.

“Postnatal distress robs women of a special and important time in their life, and in their baby’s life when we know that crucial brain connections are being made”, says Emma Green of the Postnatal Distress Support Network, “of course this doesn’t just affect women, around 1 in 10 fathers will experience PND too”.

“At best women may be feeling isolated, and perhaps experiencing anxiety or tearfulness, she may not want to admit something is wrong, there is a lot of shame in telling others that everything isn’t the rosy picture we are led to expect. At worst, vulnerable new mothers can be feeling suicidal, desperate for help and understanding”.

Rosie Smith of the Perinatal Mental Health Trust stresses that we can no longer keep thinking of this issue as purely a hormonal imbalance. “The picture of PND is complex and there are many interwoven factors such as isolation, loss of autonomy, loss of financial independence, lack of sleep, hormone changes, body changes, birth trauma, external and internal expectations, perfectionism, lack of support, a move away from wider whanau and community and so on”.

“Women are more vulnerable to developing emotional problems after childbirth than at any other time in their lives and the life-time prevalence of major depression in women is almost twice that of men”.


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