It is no secret that the healthcare industry is one that is constantly met with criticism and praise, depending on the circumstances and the angles at which it is being met. This is not less true here in Australia, than it is anywhere else in the world. Interestingly, however, we currently stand amid a pivotal time for women’s health in Australia. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but it starts with our approach to pregnant womens’ health. Throughout the years, it has been blatantly obvious that women (as well as men, of course) suffer from different health problems sometimes.
The one aspect of overall health that is unique to females is their health during and after pregnancy. Not unlike many other parts of the world, one of Australia’s most misguided approaches to health is that towards pregnant women and new mothers. Answering why takes more time than simply answering a few questions. Each pregnancy is different, and every pregnancy experience is also different. This has made progress towards appropriately responding to pregnant womens’ health slower, but finally Australia is stepping it up.
The truth of perinatal and postnatal depression
Consider perinatal and postnatal depression, for example. These are health problems that present themselves both during pregnancy, in the lead up to motherhood, and once the baby is finally born. While many people mistakenly assume that these conditions are not overly common, they are more common than you might think. In fact, one in five pregnant women and new mothers in Australia alone have experienced perinatal or postnatal depression during at least one of their pregnancies (some are unfortunate enough to experience in more than one – or even all – their pregnancies).
Understanding perinatal and postnatal depression
Essentially, perinatal depression is a mental health condition that expectant mothers can sometimes experience in the lead up to the delivery of their child. Postnatal depression, on the other hand, is suffered most often (if not always) in the aftermath of the pregnancy and subsequent birth. In both instances, the women suffering from the condition experience heightened states of emotional imbalance, in addition to confusing feelings of dread, distaste, indifference, and guilt surrounding motherhood and even their child specifically. In the past, Australia has handled these mental health conditions inadequately (not unlike the rest of the world), but now the tides are finally changing.
The learning curve of reshaping our approach to the health of these women
While doctors are not entirely sure what definitively causes PND, it is largely believed to be the result of a combination of monumental changes in hormones and the shock of transitioning into parenthood. However, more and more, regardless of what causes it, pregnant womens’ and new mothers’ health is more of a priority in Australian healthcare than it has ever been before. With more general awareness and understanding, coupled with more availability of necessary and adequate services and treatment approaches, this is a problem that is slowly but surely being mended. Health insurance policies are beginning to include mental health conditions – including perinatal and postnatal depression) more and more (for an example, click here for affordable health insurance benefits with iSelect).