They may be cute, but no, these nappies won't cure PND

A campaign post for Nappy Notes by Hello Angel.
A campaign post for Nappy Notes by Hello Angel. 

Picture the scene: a visibly sad woman looks out of window; outside, the world is grey. A moment later she stands alone in an empty corridor clutching a coffee cup and looking gloomily at the floor. A voice over explains that this woman is suffering from "the baby blues".

Don't worry, she won't be sad for long … thankfully, her new baby needs changing … and as if by magic, a thoughtful message appears on the urine soaked disposable nappy – "Love you Mummy."

Phew. Now everything will be okay!

It may sound like an April Fools' joke, but the team behind these 'Nappy Notes' really think that urine-activated messages of love will cure postnatal depression (which they call the "baby blues" – even though there is a big difference between the two).

Other messages in the series include: "I love you to the moon and back" and "You're my superhero."

Executive director Paul Chan of Cheil Hong Kong said that idea emerged when they realised the wetness indicator that was already built into nappies could "do so much more."

"Hence, Nappy Notes was born – a simple repurposing of the wetness indicator to reinvent the humble nappy, to help new mums beat the baby blues," he told Campaign Brief Asia.

"It was a powerful brand opportunity for us to provide the right love and support at the time new mums need it the most.

"By embedding loving messages in every nappy, we engaged directly with new mums at every nappy change. And with every nappy change, we built a stronger bond between the mother and her baby, and towards our brand."

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There is no denying that it's a cute gimmick and most new mums would probably get a laugh out of it. But really, to suggest that Nappy Notes could cure postnatal depression (PND) totally trivialises the issue.

Mother of two, Jo, suffered from PND after the birth of her first son. She says it would be nice if the solution to PND were so simple. 

"As someone who has suffered with PND, seeing a 'loving' message on my baby's nappy when he pees would not – absolutely not – have made me feel better," she says.

Jo also says that Nappy Notes advert makes it seem as if PND is just a temporary problem.

"As a society, we have come a long way in understanding mental health issues. This seems like a step back in time," she says.

Terri Smith, CEO of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA), says that perinatal anxiety and depression is a complex and serious health issue. 

"At PANDA we know that it affects everyone differently, and while a positive loving message never hurt anyone it's not enough in itself to help someone through perinatal anxiety and depression," she says.

Smith also notes that there is considerable stigma around PND.

"So many mums who call PANDA's Helpline express their sense of shame that their feelings are stopping them being a good mum. 

"I hope the messages won't do any harm, but I know they won't cure perinatal anxiety and depression," she says.

So what is a better way to support a new mum with PND? Smith says that although it can be hard to know how to help, we can all play a role.

"It is important that you let them know that this is a common experience and they are not a bad mother. Help them access good quality information and encourage them to call PANDA," says Smith. 

"The sooner they get help, the sooner they will get better."

PANDA National Helpline: 1300 726 306

Cat Rodie is a journalist and features writer. She likes to write articles that make people think. When she's out and about Cat can be found kid wrangling, running or drinking strong cups of tea. You can follow her on Facebook @catrodie.