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Series: Pinter & Martin Why It Matters 4Author: Mia ScotlandBinding: paperbackFormat: 172 x 111 mmPages: 160Illustrations: nonePinter & Martin edition available: worldwideTranslation rights: Pinter & Martin
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You have probably heard of postnatal depression, but did you know that most cases of postnatal depression actually began in pregnancy? And that most people who have antenatal depression have had depression in the past? And did you know that postnatal depression is not caused by women’s hormones gone awry; men are suffering postnatal and perinatal depression in larger and larger numbers too? This is why “postnatal depression” has now been renamed “perinatal depression”(‘peri’ means around, as in the word “perimeter”).
Why is the seemingly joyful event of new parenthood causing so much suffering? Depression seems to be related to the stresses that a modern couple undertakes when they have a baby. The lack of support, lack of celebration, overload of expectations, overwhelming responsibility, isolation, judgment, blaming by the media, tiredness, mixed messages, confusion, high expectations and lack of tender loving care serve to eventually break parents and their relationships. And when we break parents, we break a baby. Babies are our future, and if we break a baby, in the long run, we break society. Postnatal depression takes a high toll on society. Dealing effectively with perinatal depression is about valuing love, connection, calm and stillness, over and above productivity, achievement and acquisition.
I found this book really interesting to read, especially as I was expecting it to focus mainly on the mother and her feelings but actually a lot of the book is centred around the society in which we are bringing up children, the enormous expectations placed upon mothers by other people, including government and the implicit messages they send through what seem like supportive schemes such as creating childcare schemes so Mums can go back to work - they negate the fact that raising a child is important work yet are happy to contribute to pay someone who is not the mother to look after the child. A great point that really resonated with me was that mothers are not at all valued by society - despite the fact that motherhood is viewed as the ultimate goal in a woman's life.The author spells out exactly what mothers are faced with, something I feel I had just accepted but seeing it written down in black in white (all of the obstacles and lack of support) made me realize that actually I am doing a good job and a very worthwhile job and not to undervalue myself - which was a factor in my low self-esteem. It is not a book that will help in concrete ways to combat perinatal depression as that is only covered in one chapter but it does really help in the understanding of why women (and men - great that this is covered) who have had peri-natal depression feel as they do and helps us not to blame ourselves. It also helped me to view myself in a much more positive light in my role as a mother. The other really positive thing is that it is a small book, very handy for popping in your bag and doesn't seem like a daunting read, very easy to pick up which is what we busy Mums need!
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This is the first of the Why It Matters series that I have read, and I am deeply impressed that so much insightful information is packed into this densely thoughtful little book, although I feel that it may have the wrong title. I feel this because any new parent or parent-to-be could learn a huge amount about what they might feel or be feeling, why this happens, and many strategies to protect against or cope with it.Psychologist Mia Scotland creates a very vivid picture of what perinatal depression is, for those who have never experienced it, and then sets it firmly in its cultural context. The central theme here is support, the concept of the village that it takes to raise a child, and how hard it is in these modern times to manage without this. Her writing style is strong and clear, and she includes a great explanation of research and evidence, and the limitations of applying these to individual circumstances. I found the whole book to be excellently evidence-based and sensible, and at the same time striking a mother-centred and deeply feminist tone.Even though the section on actual therapy for perinatal depression is quite small, the book offers a range of preventative strategies that would certainly be useful for most new parents. Rather than simply exhorting the mother to seek support or take care of herself, Scotland has plenty of practical ideas about how she can do this, and how other people can help.This is a sensible, informative book, which I would recommend to parents, expectant parents, and people who work with parents: an absolute must-read.
This book is so interesting. I was hoping that it would be good to give to other people to explain perinatal depression better that I could myself, and I was right. But more than that, this book is a great tool for those supporting new families, not only by helping them to understand the illness itself and what sufferers go through, but how to begin to help. The focus and chapter on fathers is particularly interesting, charting the behavioural and hormonal changes in fathers that might lead to an increase in men suffering from perinatal depression. Also interesting is the comparison between different cultural practices surrounding the new family, and how this might effect the likelihood of depression. This book is a valuable tool in our arsenal for fighting perinatal depression.
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