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Talking about perinatal mental health

For many new parents, talking about how they are feeling can be difficult. You may never have experienced feelings and thoughts like this before, and are not sure how to express them.

If you are experiencing symptoms of perinatal anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or psychosis, some of the thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing can be extremely frightening. Many people may feel afraid to share these thoughts with their partner or family.

Difficult emotions in the perinatal period can trigger a lot of shame, guilt and sadness. The image you may have had of what you’d be like as a parent probably didn’t include feeling low, crying, or wishing you could take a break from parenting. Yet our callers commonly report having those emotions and thoughts. These thoughts and feelings don’t mean you don’t love your baby, and they don’t mean you are a bad person or parent.

In fact, up to 1 in 5 expecting or new mums and up to 1 in 10 expecting or new dads will develop symptoms of perinatal anxiety and/or depression. Perinatal mental health issues are much more common than many people realise. Even if you aren’t experiencing significant changes to your mental health, it’s still common to experience distressing thoughts and emotions, including worry, doubt and sadness.

If you’re struggling with your mental and emotional wellbeing, you might feel confused about whether what you are experiencing is “normal”. You might be unsure of how to start talking about your feelings, or you might feel concerned about what people will think.

It’s okay to talk about what you’re feeling. Starting the conversation with someone you trust, such as your partner or a friend, can be a first step on the road to seeking professional support.

Helpful Information

Talking to your doctor
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How to get a mental health treatment plan
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Tips for talking about perinatal mental health

1

Barriers to accessing help and support

2

Parenting myths vs facts

3

Managing unhelpful comments

4

Talking to your doctor

5

What if someone confides in you about how they are feeling?

Mental health checklist

How are you going?

Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting is unique and brings different rewards and challenges. Our mental health checklist can help you to see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be reason to seek help.

Checklist for

Expecting Mums
Expecting Dads and Non-birth Parents
New Mums
New Dads and Non-birth Parents
Partners and Carers
PANDA National Helpline

Find someone to talk to, Monday to Saturday.

1300 726 306

Call 000 for police and ambulance if you or someone else are in immediate danger

Talk with friends or family

Consider talking about how you are feeling with someone you trust. This might be a friend or family member. Once you starting talking you might be surprised at how many others have had similar experiences and the support they can provide you.

Talk with your doctor

Talking with your doctor can be an important step to getting the help you need. They should be able to give you non-judgemental support, assessment, diagnosis, and ongoing care and treatment. They can also refer you to specialists such as a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.

Get help now

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling disorientated it’s important to get help immediately. PANDA is not a crisis service, if you need immediate support call Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7).

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How are you going?

Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting is unique and brings different rewards and challenges. Our mental health checklist can help you to see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help.