Postnatal Depression and Triplets – you’re not alone.

postpartum depression triplets

If you’ve experienced the “joys” of pregnancy, you’ll know firsthand that there’s not a single part of your body that’s unaffected by all the fun hormonal changes you’re going through. Unfortunately, hormones continue to rule your life after you give birth. They are incredibly important – they help keep you and your baby happy and allow you to do things like produce milk. Still, these intense hormonal changes can also wreak havoc on your mental health and cause severe conditions like postnatal depression.

For new mothers of triplets, postnatal depression is especially common. It’s been fairly well established that caring for multiple babies puts you at a higher risk of developing postnatal depression. Even if you’re enjoying your pregnancy (apparently it’s possible) and feeling great about life, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression, because you never know what your body has in store for you after you give birth. Read on to learn all you need to know about triplets and postnatal depression.

What exactly IS postnatal depression?

Postpartum depression triplets

Firstly, it’s important to understand that postnatal depression is not the same as what is often called the “baby blues”. The baby blues is very common – it’s estimated that 70-80% of new mothers experience some form of baby blues. The baby blues usually involve feeling sad, crying for no real reason, feeling impatient, irritable, anxious, restless, and undergoing extreme mood swings.

Of course, a new baby (or especially multiple babies) is a HUGE change in your life, and it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by everything you’re experiencing. As you slowly adjust and settle into life with your newborn, the baby blues gradually subsides. Most new mums are feeling a lot better within around a fortnight of delivering their babies.

If your symptoms are severe or last longer than a couple of weeks, you might be experiencing something more serious than the baby blues. Postnatal (or postpartum) depression affects around one in nine new mothers (though, as mentioned, postnatal depression with triplets is more common) and needs to be addressed immediately.

It’s not known exactly what causes postnatal depression, but good old hormones are believed to play a role. The hormonal changes experienced immediately after giving birth are intense – your levels of estrogen and progesterone are sky-high at the end of your pregnancy, then plummet within 24 hours after you have your baby.

How do you know if you have postnatal depression after triplets?

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing easy about having triplets. The mood swings start during pregnancy, and they don’t let up once your bubs enter the world. You haven’t slept for months, you don’t remember the last time you had a second to yourself, and you’re seriously second-guessing your ability to look after THREE of these helpless little blobs. All of these feelings are a normal part of having triplets. Even with the most helpful support network of cheerleading champions, it’s completely normal to feel like you’ve reached your limit. Here’s what’s not normal:

  • Crying frequentlyfor no reason, especially if it is still happening a month or more after giving birth
  • Often feeling worthless or hopeless, even though your babies are healthy and happy, and everyone around you is telling you that you’re doing a great job
  • Not bonding with your babies or enjoying your time with them
  • Lack of appetite despite your body needing more calories and nutrients than ever before
  • Inability to sleep (in the rare instances you get an opportunity to) even though you’re exhausted
  • Anxiousness or panic attacks or being unable to complete daily tasks
  • Thoughts of harming your babies or yourself

These are very serious symptoms and are all indicators of postnatal depression with triplets. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible – they can help you find the right treatment so that you can get back to being a supermum.

Reducing the chances of postnatal depression after triplets

postnatal depression triplets

Once you learn you’re having triplets, it’s important to understand that your risk of postnatal depression increases. You’re also at a higher risk if you’ve experienced depression before or if it runs in your family. Although hormonal changes are out of our control, there are still a few things you can do (during pregnancy and after you give birth) that may help to reduce your chances of developing postnatal depression after triplets:

  • Rest up. Yes, yes, it’s not exactly easy to sleep comfortably when you’re pregnant with triplets, or after they’re born and refuse to go down at the same time. However, getting enough sleep will make a world of difference to your mental health. Try for a four-hour block of uninterrupted sleep if possible – you’ll feel incredible.
  • Stay active. In general, exercise is great for keeping depression at bay, and this holds true for postnatal depression as well. When you’re feeling up to it, try some light stretching, yoga, or even a short walk outside to keep stress hormones like cortisol at bay.
  • Ask for help. It’s TRIPLETS. You can’t do this on your own, and you shouldn’t try. There are probably heaps of people around you who would love to help out – you just have to tell them what you need! Make the most of your support network; it’s what they’re for.
  • Treat yourself. There’s nothing selfish about self-care. Look after your mental health by taking some time out to have a bath, call a friend, or do whatever else helps you to relax and reset.

Triplets and postnatal depression – how to find help

Postnatal depression is a very serious condition and needs to be treated right away. For postnatal depression and triplets, make sure you consult your doctor right away. There are also lots of resources available if you believe you may be suffering from postnatal depression, or if you would just like someone to talk to:

Postpartum Support International – Australian Resources

Beyond Blue

COPE

Don’t hesitate to reach out – postnatal depression after triplets is far more common than you may realise and is no reflection on you, your coping mechanisms, or your parenting skills.

Thinking About Delivering Triplets Naturally? Here’s what you need to know…

vaginal delivery triplets

Of the five million decisions facing every expecting mother, figuring out how to give birth is one of the most personal and important ones to make. There are more options than ordering a sandwich at Subway – “Natural vaginal birth? C-section? Waterbirth? Homebirth? Would you like a side of epidural with that?” It’s important to consider all of your options and create a birth plan that is best suited to you and your new little one. If you’re expecting multiples (congratulations and good luck!), you definitely need to factor this into your birth plan. Read on to learn everything you need to know about delivering triplets naturally.

Why choose to deliver triplets naturally?

Firstly, a “natural delivery” means different things to different people. Some expecting mums interpret a natural birth as a vaginal delivery with only minor/necessary medical intervention. In contrast, others take it to mean a vaginal birth without any medical intervention whatsoever – no surgical procedures and no pain relief. It’s easy to be drawn to the idea of a natural delivery, especially now that phrases like “all-natural” and “naturally-derived” are splashed across products that are supposed to be better for our bodies.

vaginal delivery with triplets

These are some of the most common reasons for choosing a natural delivery:

  • It can be empowering. Have you ever wondered just what you’re capable of? Do you like testing your body and pushing it to the limit? A natural delivery will do just that, and you will know for the rest of your life that you have experienced one of the most painful sensations known to womankind, and lived to tell the tale.
  • Breastfeeding may come a little easier. The hormones produced as a result of your body going in to labour start initiating milk production. While the lactation process will still occur one your uterus begins contracting after birth, it can take a little longer for those hormones and the subsequent milk production to get flowing. Talk to your midwife for assistance in getting your milk supply up and don’t worry if a natural delivery isn;t an option for you…plenty of women have had caesarean section births and successfully breastfed triplets or more!
  • It adds to the “primal” aspect of pregnancy. Being pregnant is the most natural thing in the world – humans and other animals have experienced pregnancy since the dawn of time. For many women, keeping the experience as “pure” and as primal as possible is an important part of the journey.
  • Your little one’s lungs may get a helping hand. Contractions during labour can be great for helping clear the gunk out of babies’ lungs as they pass through the birth canal and make their journey into the world. Research publisjed in the British Medical Journal reported that babies born via caesarian section are up to four times more likely to experience breathing difficulties in the first few days following birth compared to those delivered naturally.
  • It’s certainly an experience you will remember. You won’t lose any sensation or alertness during a natural delivery. In fact, the whole experience will likely stick with you very vividly for years to come, whether you like it or not. One reassuring thought for you…while the idea of pushing multiple babies out may seem daunting, multiple births are usually smaller sized babies than their single birth counterparts!

Although some people see benefits in a natural birth, it’s not the safest option for everybody. Complications may arise if your pregnancy is considered “high risk,” or if you have certain medical conditions. Also, although single babies and often twins can be delivered naturally, delivering triplets naturally is not usually recommended.

Why delivering triplets naturally might not be your safest option

The general rule of pregnancy is that it’s better to keep the babe incubating in the uterus for as long as possible. However, this advice changes when you’re cooking multiple babes. Delivering triplets naturally rarely happens and isn’t recommended by health professionals. Getting one baby out of there is hard enough, but with three, the risks greatly increase – the placenta or umbilical cord can become compressed, or the babies can become entangled.

If the first triplet is born vaginally, the risks for the other babies are amplified. They suddenly have much more space to move around in the uterus, increasing the chances of becoming tangled or in the wrong position for birth. The risk of placental abruption also increases after the first triplet is delivered vaginally.

Most obstetricians will prefer to approach a triplet delivery via caesarian section, simply because it is challenging to monitor the foetal heartbeats when there are multiple babies. If one of your babies is in distress, it can be harder for them to detect this and intervene if necessary. These are some of the reasons why many medical professionals don’t generally recommend delivering triplets naturally.

What are the alternatives to delivering triplets naturally?

Although there are instances of delivering triplets naturally, it’s a pretty rare occurrence. Triplets are almost always delivered by cesarian section (C-section) as this offers more control over the delivery and can be scheduled in advance. Many women are relieved to have a scheduled delivery date, and as triplets often require extra medical care after birth, it’s safest to have everything arranged in advance.

If you’re expecting triplets and were hoping for a natural delivery, it may be possible if you discuss the options with your medical team. However, there are certain instances when a natural birth will definitely not be recommended, including if:

  • One or more of your babies are breeched/not in a safe position
  • Your placenta is low-lying
  • Your triplets are all sharing one placenta
  • You have previously had a C-section or a difficult/complicated vaginal delivery

If any of those scenarios apply to you, you will need to deliver your triplets via C-section in a hospital.

Naturally delivering triplets: Can it be done?

There are certainly greater risks associated with delivering triplets naturally compared to single babies or even twins. It may be possible, and if it is something you feel very strongly about, you should discuss your options with your doctor/midwife/OBGYN.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to ensure your babies enter the world safely, and you are there to welcome them into your soon-to-be-very-full arms.

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