Caring for two or more babies is hard work. For some women, the extra pressure of coping with more than one baby can lead to postnatal depression.
This doesn't mean you'll definitely get depressed after having your babies, but there are good reasons why mothers of multiple births can be more at risk.
Postnatal depression after having twins
The charity Tamba has identified some of the most common causes of postnatal depression in parents of multiple babies:
- Caring for two babies is hard. You constantly have to split your time and attention between them and can't give them the same type of care you would a single baby. Coping with two or more babies takes time to get used to.
- A lack of sleep is more likely to affect mothers of multiple babies. Only 14% of mothers of multiples have six or more hours of sleep a night in the first year.
- Twins are more likely to be cared for in the neonatal unit. It's thought that this could increase the chances of postnatal depression. This is because instead of being able to celebrate your babies' birth, you may be coping with worry, stress and guilt.
- Twin pregnancies are more prone to complications and the birth may be difficult, too. This means you can begin motherhood feeling low and exhausted.
You may find that the reality of caring for your babies doesn't match up to your expectations of motherhood. If your twins are the result of IVF, for example, it may be hard to discuss these feelings with relatives and friends who assume you're thrilled to have the babies you longed for.
You may also feel:
- Envious of mothers with single babies and the mother-child bond they appear to enjoy.
- Isolated, as it's harder for you to get out than for mothers of single babies. See our advice about getting out and about with twins.
- Unsupported - caring for two or more babies is physically and emotionally draining if you don't have enough support.
Fathers and postnatal depression
Fathers can also develop postnatal depression. Research suggests that about 1 in 25 fathers are affected, but this figure may be higher for fathers of multiples. Men can find it harder to seek support, but it's important to tell your GP if you are feeling anxious or depressed.
Fathers can also call Tamba's free helpline (Twinline) on 0800 138 0509.
Spotting signs of postnatal depression
It's important to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression because the faster it's diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Symptoms of postnatal depression can include:
- crying a lot
- difficulty sleeping
- thinking you're a bad mother
- not being able to cope and blaming yourself
- anxiety, panic attacks and feeling guilty
- being overwhelmed by even the smallest tasks
- feeling tense and irritable
- difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Where to get help
If you have the symptoms of postnatal depression or are feeling low or unable to cope, get help as soon as possible from your GP, midwife, or health visitor.
You can find out more information about postnatal depression by registering with Tamba and downloading their free leaflet, Postnatal depression: a guide for mothers of multiples.
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Article provided by NHS Choices