One in three women will experience significant depressive symptoms in the first five years after giving birth. But new research has found if mothers regularly take time for themselves in the first six months after giving birth they’re less likely to get postnatal depression.
In the early months after giving birth, women’s physical health, intimate relationships and mental health are strained. Many new mothers experience mental health problems and they do not improve over time. (WATCH: Jessica Rowe speaks honestly about her experience of postnatal depression. Post continues after the video.)
In fact, depression is commonly episodic rather than acute (meaning that it is most likely to come and go), and the prevalence of depression increases over the first four years after giving birth.
Maternal depression has clear and obvious impacts on women, children and families. Despite the importance of women’s mental health after birth, there has been very limited evidence of effective ways to prevent maternal depression and promote mental well-being at this time.
We studied more than 1,500 women and discovered a strong and robust association between “taking time for themselves, when someone else looks after the baby” at six months after birth and the prevalence of depression symptoms. The prevalence of depressive symptoms steadily decreased as the frequency of time for self increased (see below).