Perinatal mental health – a life-changing but challenging journey

Fiona Stanley Hospital patient Ebonee standing outside smiling
November 9, 2022

Did you know as many as one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting and new dads will experience perinatal anxiety or depression?

Affecting up to 100,00 families across Australia each year, perinatal anxiety or depression refers to any mental health condition affecting the mood, behaviour, wellbeing or daily function of an expecting or new parent.

If left untreated, perinatal mental illness can have long-lasting impacts on parents, partners, babies and families.

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week (6-12 November 2022) supports the mental health and wellbeing of expecting, new and growing families throughout pregnancy and in their first year of parenthood, such as Ebonee Lynch.

Following the birth of her second child, Ebonee presented herself to Fiona Stanley Hospital's (FSH) emergency department after experiencing signs of anxiety and depression.

The challenge of juggling work, sleepless nights and looking after two children with sleeping difficulties proved too much for Ebonee.

"When my daughter was born, it was tough as she was very vocal and only slept in 20-minute intervals, over and over again in a 24-hour period," Ebonee said.

"She wouldn't settle for anyone and needed to be rocked all the time."

After five challenging months, Ebonee was diagnosed with perinatal anxiety and was soon referred to the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at FSH.

"The staff were so supportive and friendly on the MBU and I received wonderful care aimed at my health," Ebonee said.

Receiving strategies to improve her sleep and wellbeing, attending workshops and speaking to other women going through a similar experience proved to be invaluable for Ebonee's recovery.

"The experience of caring for a newborn in this world can be life changing in many amazing ways," Ebonee said.

"But it is also challenging."

Ebonee encourages new or expecting parents who are going through a similar experience to seek support early.

"If things are feeling tough, that is an indicator that it's time to seek support," Ebonee said.

"The reality is that parenting is the hardest thing in the world, it's an extreme change from your life before having a baby.

"The awareness of perinatal mental illness, even prior to having a baby, may just be the catalyst to seek support in some way."

Ebonee is taking the opportunity this week brings to thank all the staff at FSH involved in her journey, for helping to improve her mental health following the birth of her second child.

This Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week, know that you're not alone and that help is available.

Visit Perinatal Mental Health Week to learn more and to better understand perinatal mental health.

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