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Postnatal Depression: Facing the Paradox of Loss, Happiness and Motherhood

Postnatal Depression: Facing the Paradox of Loss, Happiness and Motherhood

Paula Nicolson, Dorothy Rowe (Foreword by)

ISBN: 978-0-470-84937-8

Sep 2011

240 pages

Select type: E-Book



Why do I feel so sad when I am so happy? I must be a bad mother.

Having a baby is usually a reason for happiness and celebration. Depression after childbirth causes emotional pain and suffering that lives side by side with the joy. That is the underlying paradox and it is that paradox that frequently leads to sense of bewilderment and guilt.

Through the stories of 24 women trying to negotiate their lives as mothers, Paula Nicolson helps women understand more about the realities of motherhood. Ninety percent of new mothers find themselves in tears and feeling "down" soon after giving birth and one in ten will become depressed during the first year. Postnatal Depression: Facing the paradox of loss, happiness and motherhood shows how better self-knowledge and a greater understanding of PND can help lift the burden and restore self esteem and harmony to mothers and their families.

Being depressed

What is depression? - official and unofficial definitions

What it feels like to be depressed

Who gets it and what causes it?

Explaining depression

What is postnatal depression?

Discovering the paradox

Different theories and different kinds of depression

The baby blues

Postnatal distress and depressed moods

Postnatal depression

What causes postnatal depression? Why me? Why now?

Different approaches to understanding women's postnatal experiences

Trauma following birth

Factors influencing PTSD

Worrying about the baby's health and welfare

Getting the best support over the postnatal period

Coping with depressed moods

Finding social support

Not all company is supportive

Getting support to prevent PND

What has happened to me?

Motherhood and the arrival of self-confidence

Happiness and loss: the paradox of postnatal depression


The experience of loss

The healthy grief reaction

Losing sleep

Losing time


Feeling too fat

Losing your looks

Losing your 'mind'

Losing my self

Being clear about who you really are

Finding yourself as a mother

Being a 'good' mother: the paradox of sacrifice


What is the truth about the maternal instinct

Is maternal instinct a biological drive?

Is there a paternal instinct?

Is biology destiny?

Were you born knowing how to bath a baby?

The father's role

Is a good woman the same as a good mother?

But, what does make a good mother?

Negotiating the boundaries bewteeen self and other

Voices of the experts

Postnatal depression by proxy


The paradoxical burden

Women's rage: gender relations or PND by proxy?

What do women expect?

Penelope's story

Wendy's story

Isobel's story

Understanding PND by proxy

Challenging the paradox and getting on with your life


Taking control: when and how

Social support

Emotions fitness

Cognitive-analytic therapy (CAT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

Physical fitness

Where do we go from here?


Portraits of the women
"..It performs, in a womanlike fashion, the important job of depathologising postnatal sadness...this is the ideal.." (The Times, 3 December 2001)

"..this book should be a 'must read' for dads, grandparents, anyone in the caring profession and any women who is about to tackle the monumental task of becoming a mother." ( 14 February 2002)

"It recognises how things are today with families living far apart, and the ever increasing load a mother has to carry." (Young Minds Magazine, May/June 2002)

"...In the patients' library this book could be extremely useful..." (Family Practice, Vol.19, No. 4, 2002)

"…I would recommend this book to any pregnant woman,…Well done to the author!!…" (, 28 March 2003)

"…I would like to end by recommending pages 170-172 to psycho-therapists dealing with depression across the board…and also to those dealing with other mental disorder." (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol.44, No. 6, 2003) 

"…a clear and practical book…" (The Sun, 16 September 2003)

"…definitely a book I would recommend for all." (Primary Health Care, September 2003)

“…gets to the heart of the matter…expecting and new mothers are shown how to take a more realistic approach…” (Stress News, April 2004)