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?
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
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
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.