When you have a baby there is a certain expectation that you’ll be overjoyed by the whole experience. You’ve got through the birth, you’re home safe and sound and you have a gorgeous baby to nurture so why wouldn’t you be elated?
For the majority of women, this is indeed the case. Overwhelming joy mixed with a healthy dose of tiredness keeps them ticking along just fine. But what about the women who don’t feel that way? What about the women who are putting on a front to those on the outside but just not feeling the expected joy on the inside?
There are various reasons why a new mum may not feel as she’d expect to following the birth of her baby. If she’s had a long or difficult birth, she may be feeling physically sore or unwell and tired. It can also be hormone related, usually around Day 3 when her milk starts to come in and she has an increase in hormones. Mums are often quite happy, just a bit tearful too. This is nothing to worry about and usually passes within a day or so.
There’s also the sheer exhaustion that can come with caring for a newborn. If their baby doesn’t sleep for long periods and they’re doing most or all of the care (particularly with breast feeding mums), then lack of sleep can leave them feeling like they’re losing the plot somewhat.
So where does Post Natal Depression fit in? This blog isn’t about an expert’s viewpoint; it’s about helping someone to know when to ask for help. It’s not about a formal diagnosis, it’s about realising that you’re not happy and you’re struggling with the situation that you’re in. It’s about recognising that you need someone to help you through what feels like an ever-increasing fog.
PND affects 10 – 15% of women after giving birth. It can show in the form of low mood which lasts for a couple of weeks or longer and can range from mums coping with the day to day basics of caring for their baby but feeling tearful and perhaps shutting themselves away from others to those who are really struggling to the point of needing to be admitted to a mother and baby unit. Severe PND is less common; most mums who have PND are able to continue with support and sometimes medication to get them through.
The most important thing that any mum can do is to be honest with themselves. PND, no matter what its cause, is not something that is self-inflicted or that any mum has any control over. Feeling overwhelmed with the situation, feeling hopeless, helpless, apathetic, tearful or excessively emotional are very strong feelings that set mums on a more difficult path of motherhood. The most important thing any mum can do with any of these feelings is talk to someone. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or of not coping, it’s a single step in the right direction to getting them back on the right path to enjoying being a mum.
If any of this resonates with you, it’s time to ask for help. PND is now very well understood and you deserve to enjoy motherhood so pick up the phone and make a GP appointment today. Make that very first step to leaving the fog behind and gaining the support that you need.