Beyond Blue analysis highlights new parents worries in the 12 months after birth
A new Beyond Blue analysis of Google data of new parents in the first 12 months following the birth of a child has revealed some insights of value to those working in the early childhood sector seeking to support families as they navigate parenting concerns and maintain their mental health and wellbeing.
Many parents are reluctant to openly share their worries, struggles and concerns about parenting, turning instead to the anonymity of the Internet to seek answers and reassurance. The scope of the questions asked via search engines may assist early childhood educators to engage in the practice of double listening – a somewhat complex notion rooted in narrative therapy, which basically boils down to the idea of hearing the story behind the story.
In double listening, first a listener will hear an explicit explanation of the problem or issue – e.g. “I’m just not sure about Sam – I feel like I just can’t understand what he wants when he’s crying all the time” and then ‘hears’ what the underlying concern may be – e.g. “I’m just not sure about me. A better mother would know instinctively what he wants and needs.”
Through double listening, educators can support new parents to manage their mental health and build their confidence as parents.
Beyond Blue outlined that both women and men can experience perinatal depression and anxiety, with risks increasing during pregnancy and the 12 months following birth.
Each year one in ten women will experience depression during pregnancy, one in six women will experience postnatal depression and anxiety – and one in ten fathers will experience postnatal depression.
Beyond Blue undertook analysis of current global Google data for terms that may indicate signs of anxiety and depression during the perinatal period:
- “I don’t love my baby” was searched 3,840 times last year
- “Am I a bad mother?” was searched 3,800 times last year
- “I hate being pregnant” was searched 15,600 times last year
- “Does my baby love me?” was searched 4,680 times last year
- “I feel alone in my pregnancy” was searched 2,040 times last year
Dr Grant Blashki, clinical advisor with Beyond Blue emphasised the importance of community support, including from early childhood educators, in the first 12 months of parenting, saying that many new parents may not recognise that they are experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression, or that there is help available.
“Many parents navigate the journey alone, believing symptoms are just part of being a new parent, but it’s important to recognise when feelings affect day-to-day life,” Dr Blashki said, adding that seeking and accepting help is critical for parents.
Recognising the signs of depression and anxiety was an important part of seeking support, and this, Dr Blashki said, was a role educators could play in supporting families.
Based on their findings, Beyond Blue recently launched its new Perinatal Depression and Anxiety (PNDA) campaign, Strength in Numbers.
The new campaign works to identify, educate and support mums and dads who experience anxiety and depression during this period – while emphasising that they are not alone and that help is available.
Mental health professionals are available at the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3pm – 12am AEST) or email responses (within 24 hours).