'When mothers aren't perfect, they feel guilt'

An Irish counselling charity has said there is no national policy on screening for post-natal depression in Ireland, and is holding a conference today to highlight this issue and others.

Nurture claims the Irish health system does not cater well for those with mental health issues around conception, pregnancy, childbirth or loss of a baby.

The group is holding an 'Emotional Wellbeing Education Conference' conference in Dublin today to raise greater awareness of these issues.

Some 42,000 women are diagnosed each year with mental illness and emotional trauma surrounding childbirth. An estimated 13% of Irish women suffer with post-natal depression, with women from all socio-economic backgrounds affected.

Senior lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at UCC Dr Patricia Leahy Warren carried out a study on social support for first-time mothers, which revealed tremendous pressure to be the "perfect mother".

"Every mother wants to be the best mother, so they feel they have to put up this front," she said.

"There's a society pressure to get into size zero jeans, that you have to be breastfeeding, that you have to love your baby... When mothers don't have these feelgood factors, they feel guilty and they feel they can't tell anybody about it, because they feel so bad about it."

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