The authors of a new study into maternal depression said their findings make a "compelling" case for a rethink in approaches to how to support mothers.
Dr Hannah Woolhouse, psychologist and senior research officer said:
A new study of maternal health has found that depression is more common when a child is four after a first birth than at any time during the first 12 months of a baby's life. The study evaluated 1,507 women at three, six, 12, 18 months and four years after giving birth.
Researchers were alarmed to find that women with only one child at four years after birth showed significantly higher levels of depression than women with one or two children.
Contributing factors reported were:
- Reporting depressive symptoms either in early pregnancy, or in the first 12 months after childbirth
- Being a young mother, aged 18-24
- Stressful life events in the year before the four year follow-up
- Violence from a partner
- Low income
But at four years after giving birth, 40% of women reporting depressive symptoms had not previously reported this.
Depression is more common in first-time mothers when the child is four years old than at any time during the 12 months after giving birth, according to a major new study from Australia.
The research shows almost one in three first-time mothers reported depressive symptoms at least once between pregnancy and four years after giving birth.
Carina Gordon, 25 and from Romsey in Hampshire, had depression in pregnancy while expecting her first child.
Speaking after research exposed the lack of care and awareness surrounding the disease, Ms Gordon explained how she "hid" her depression.
Up to one in seven women experience a mental health problem in pregnancy or after birth.
There is "a real danger" postnatal depression is on the increase because new mums are pressured to "look, act and feel perfect", warned the founder of a parents advice service.
Sally Russell, the co-founder of Netmums, warned postnatal depression took its toll on the whole family.
Three quarters of women suffering from postnatal depression felt unable to tell a health worker they were struggling, research has found.
A poll lead by Netmums, quizzed 1,500 women who had suffered from postnatal depression, 40% of which said they did not receive treatment for their problems.
- Some 34% did not disclose for fear that they would have their baby taken away from them.
- A further 31% were put off because they saw different midwifes or health visitors at their appointments.
Under half of midwives see the same woman throughout her pregnancy, a poll has found.
Netmums, baby charity Tommy's and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), quizzed 2,000 health professionals on top of 1,500 mothers who suffered from postnatal depression, in a survey on women's mental health.
- Fewer than half (46%) of community midwives saw the same woman throughout her care.
- As many as 44% said there was not enough time to discuss mental health in appointments.
- Their concerns were echoed by health visitors, with only 43% seeing the same woman throughout her care.
Intense pressure to get everything right is contributing to a rise in the number of new mums suffering from post-natal depression, a report has found.
Money worries, practical help with childcare and work worries have all contributed to women feeling very low after giving birth.
A survey of 1,500 women who suffered from depression either in pregnancy or birth found 12% felt as if they could not cope, 22% felt overwhelming pressure to "do things right" and 21% suffered due to a lack of support.
The poll, from organisations including Netmums, the baby charity Tommy), forms part of a report into mental health among pregnant women and those who have given birth.
Mental health lessons should be taught in schools amid fresh concerns that many youngsters are affected by the issue, campaigners said.
There have been calls for the topic to be included in the national curriculum and for schools to provide counselling and support to any young person that needs it.
A survey for MindFull, a new mental health charity who have called for the lessons, showed:
- Around one in five children has symptoms of depression, such as continually feeling low or sad, helpless or anxious.
- Nearly three in 10 of the young adults questioned said they had harmed themselves on purpose before they were 16.
- Nearly a third (32%) said they had thought about or attempted to end their own life.
The survey questioned more than 2,000 16 to 25-year-olds about their experiences of mental health when they were children.