The Parent Trap: Older Mums At Risk of Postnatal Depression

By Ani Tuna on Saturday, 01 April 2017.

I would like to introduce our guest blogger: Ani from MumLife Australia. I got very excited when she accepted writing for us. Love her website as it is an incredible trusted online resource for mums.

MumLife Australia prides itself on helping new mums find the joy in motherhood. As Australia’s first and uniquely parent-led resource, MumLife Australia understands the importance of providing reliable and consistent expert information to help mums make informed parenting decisions.”- extracted from her website.

Her article today is about how first time mums at an older age can be susceptible to suffer PND and anxiety.

I invite you to read the article below and head to her website to see more helpful reliable information.

The Parent Trap: Older Mums At Risk of Postnatal Depression

The transition to motherhood is one of most significant changes in a woman’s life. For many women, this transition, although challenging at first, is a smooth journey. But for others, that transition can be a turbulent, and sometimes even traumatic, experience.

In Australia up to 1 in 7 new mums are diagnosed with postnatal depression and even more are thought to suffer with anxiety.

Although everyone’s experience of parenthood is different, there is some (albeit limited) research to suggest that women who delay having kids until they’ve established their career are at higher risk of developing postnatal depression.

According to Silje Marie Haga, research leader from the University of Oslo, in Norway, ‘There are some indications that older, first-time mothers are vulnerable to postpartum depression, perhaps because they are used to being in control of their own lives: they have completed a long education and established a career before they have children. But you can’t control a baby; on the contrary, you have to be extremely flexible.’

As a lawyer turned first-time mum at 30-something, this need to be in control was only one of many factors that contributed to my turbulent transition to motherhood. For me, the need for control was coupled with a toxic combination of unrelenting perfectionism, unrealistic expectations of motherhood and unhealthy doses of comparison.

It’s unsurprising then that every decision I made about caring for my baby felt momentous and fraught with anxiety. When my baby cried, unable to be comforted, my feelings of helplessness and overwhelm made me question myself. This unrelenting and paralysing anxiety plagued my entire early-motherhood experience.

And it was only when I let go of the perfection, ceased the comparisons, gave up the control and sought much needed help that my experience of motherhood became a more joyful one.

And that’s the thing, whether you’re an older mother, or not – as mothers, we all just want to feel confident, supported and joyful.

So, how do we achieve that? How do we protect women from the struggles of early-motherhood and aid that smooth transition to motherhood?

1. Be prepared

Sure, nothing may actually prepare you for harrowing sleep-deprivation and the loss of all personal space. But knowing the good, the bad and the ugly of parenthood is the first step to readjusting our unrealistic expectations of motherhood.

Hint: Motherhood is not what you see on Instagram or what you read of Facebook!

The sooner we open up about things like the strain parenting will put on your marriage and the fact that the bond between mother and baby is often formed not instant, the sooner we can shape a realistic image of motherhood in our minds.

2. Know the signs and symptoms

Postnatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) can be mild, moderate or severe and symptoms can begin suddenly after birth or appear gradually in the weeks or months during the first year after birth.

According to Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia, PNDA tends to be characterised by a combination of the following symptoms:

– Panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)
– Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of baby
– The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours
– Changes in appetite: under or overeating
– Sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs
– Extreme lethargy: a feeling of being physically or emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of chores and looking after baby
– Memory problems or loss of concentration (‘brain fog’)
– Loss of confidence and lowered self esteem
– Constant sadness or crying
– Withdrawal from friends and family
– Fear of being alone with baby
– Intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or baby
– Irritability and/or anger
– Increased alcohol or drug use
– Loss of interest in sex or previously enjoyed activities
– Thoughts of death or suicide

3. Reach out for help, sooner rather than later

According to PANDA spokeswoman Lisa Knott, getting help early and the right support leads to a faster recovery.

The first step for many is to speak to a trusted family doctor, maternal child health nurse or the volunteers at National Perinatal Depression Helpline (1300-726-306)


Author: Ani Tuna, Founder of MumLife Australia & PANDA Community Champion


Ani is the founder of MumLife Australia and a Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) Community Champion. A passionate advocate for telling it how it is, Ani is dedicated to supporting parents as they take steps to reclaim the joy in parenthood. With a mission to help parents feel confident and capable, she has a special place in her heart for helping first-time mums enjoy their experience of early motherhood.

[Note: In August 2017, MumLife Australia is expanding its focus Beyond Birth. This unique event combines expert advice with real and practical insight from actual parents to help to-be mums AND dads embrace parenthood with confidence. Please speak to Ani for more information]

I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU for Ani. I will be thrilled to have you any time again at Essentials for mums.



  1. Thanks for sharing, I love these tips. It’s so important to reduce the stigma that still surrounds PND, and the risks for older mums who feel like they should have it all together.

  2. Love it. I wish I had’ve been more aware of these things prior to the birth of my first (very tough) baby. Thanks for some great signs to watch out for and the advice to seek help. So many of us don’t.

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