What increases my risk?

One very common question that people may ask is what increases my risk of developing emotional or mental health problems after having a baby?

In addition to the many challenges that you may face with adjusting with your new baby in the first weeks and months after birth, there are also a range of other factors that can make some women more vulnerable to emotional and mental health conditions in the first year after having their baby.

These factors include a range of genetic and biological factors as well as the your upbringing and the way you have learned to think, feel and behave in situations (psychological factors). In addition, your current situation (social factors) can also place more stress on you and leave you feeling and being more vulnerable, and hence may increase your risk of experiencing emotional or mental health problems at this time. There are a range of factors that are known to increase your risk of stress and/or mental health conditions developing in the first year after having a baby.

The most common risk factors

  • Experiencing mental health problems in the past or currently
  • Experiencing past or current physical, sexual or psychological abuse
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Having stressful situations or factors (stressors) in your life recently
  • Poor quality of your attachment with your own mother
  • Your access to practical and emotional support
  • Having a traumatic birth experience
  • Having an unsettled baby or baby that is not feeding well
  • Not having a positive parenting experience

Just because you may have or currently be experiencing one or more of these factors – it does not necessary mean that you will develop emotional or mental health problems in pregnancy, however it can increase your risk of this occurring. That’s why it it is good to have an awareness and understanding about these factors, to help you to be aware of their possible impact, and if possible talk to someone about this should you feel that it may impact on your feelings towards yourself, your partner and/or your baby.