One of the best things about teaching babies to swim is that we’re privileged to be present at such a very special time in a family’s life. However, whilst there’s much joy surrounding birth, there can be problems as well. Of these issues, post natal depression is certainly one of the most significant, with statistics suggesting it affects as many as one in ten new mums. About half of all new mums will suffer a period of mild depression, commonly known as ‘the baby blues’. This may last a few hours, at most a few days and then disappear. Symptoms include feeling very emotional, anxious and upset. Your sleeping may be affected and you might feel tired and lethargic. Should these ‘blues’ continue, becoming worse and more distressing, it’s possible they’re developing into postnatal depression. Alternatively a second type of PND emerges more slowly and isn’t noticeable until several weeks after birth. In both cases, symptoms are the same as with the blues, but can also include depression, panic, tension, inappropriate thoughts, loss of concentration and any interest in sex. One Water Babies client, Ali Blakemore, knows only too well the anguish caused by PND. “I found having a baby a complete shock to the system, feeling completely overburdened by the 24-7 nature of motherhood. I found myself thinking darker and darker thoughts about my ability as a mother, convinced that my son and husband would be better off without me.” One of the main problems is that often the condition remains undiagnosed and untreated, especially as many new mums are reluctant to discuss how they feel. They may think what they’re experiencing is completely normal, or feel embarrassed about feeling so miserable at such a ‘happy time’. Ali was one of the lucky ones who knew that PND is a treatable illness. “Eventually I took the plunge, went to my GP and was prescribed medication. For my recovery I knew I also needed some social activities to get me out of the house, even though in the depths of depression the last thing I felt like doing was mixing with other mums who were probably coping much better than me. “I started Water Babies lessons with Archie when he was six months old. Right from the start he loved it, being a very active little boy. Soon we were both really relaxing and enjoying it, and I felt I was able to get to know him so much better. In the early days, sharing a car with another mum and her little daughter was also really helpful as there were then no last minute excuses to opt out.” Understanding of PND is increasing all the time, enabling more and more women to get the help they need. If you think you might be suffering from it then do get in touch with your doctor. The Association for Postnatal Illness website: www.apni.org also has lots of very clear information. As a Water Babies teacher I have witnessed the effects of PND first hand. And my advice would be, don’t hesitate in seeking help if you think this is what you’re going through. There are plenty of people who will be able to help and empathise, and no-one will judge you. Chris and Charlie run Water Babies locally. Classes are available across the Loughborough and Leicester. For more information ring 01664 567302 or visit www.waterbabies.co.uk .