Kate Middleton's reported struggle with postnatal depression has dampened her plans to have another baby with husband William, according to the media. Whether or not that's true, this is an important topic that deserves attention: how does a mother who suffered from postnatal depression (PND) decide on whether or not to have another child?
Suppose you suffered through a dark postnatal period and have managed to recover through family support, good friendships, counselling, medication or whatever else got you through those bleak times, and now, the thought of having another child is making an appearance.
Some mothers who've recovered may find the prospect of depression too frightening and either decide against having another baby or postpone it for as long as they can. Others may be optimistic and think that since they recovered last time, they shouldn't get depressed again. Some have barely recovered from their postnatal depression and are already trying for number two, often avoiding reality and trying hard not to think about it at all if possible.
Here is the "sensible" mum's approach to having another baby after PND:
- Have a plan: List all the things that were helpful to you in recovering from PND and with your partner's help draw up a plan to be followed if you feel the same way again.
- Gather support: Establish a network of trusted friends, relatives and other mothers that you can call upon for practical as well as emotional support when things get tough after the baby's arrival.
- Have some "you" time: Engage in activities such as Yoga, meditation, being in nature, enjoying the arts, anything that means you can stop and just "be" for a while. What do you enjoy that brings you that wonderful feeling of being alive? It's not easy to find the time when you have little ones to care for but when you look after yourself first you can look after others better.
- Ask for professional help: See a counsellor / psychologist when pregnant as a preventative measure - many of the symptoms of PND may already be present before childbirth.
- Keep a diary: it will highlight changes in your mood and thoughts so it should be clearer when you need to reach out and ask for help.
If you are undecided or just want some guidance on whether or not to to have another child, you may want to consider the following questions:
- What does it mean to you and your husband / partner to have another child?
- Imagine yourself in the future many years from now, looking back at a life well lived. What would you like to see? What kind of choices would you like to have made?
- How might your life be richer and more meaningful by having another baby? Or not?
In life there are no guarantees. You may suffer from PND again and you may not. But by considering what is truly important to you, opening up to the possibility of PND striking again, discussing your vision of what kind of family you want with your husband, then you put yourself in the best place for making this very important decision.
What will you choose?