Normal emotions during pregnancy & post birth
When women are pregnant, there is a huge expectation that they should be happy and glowing the whole time. For some mums-to-be this is indeed the case. The reality of pregnancy for some, however, can be quite different. You may find that in early pregnancy you feel really tired or that you’re very sensitive to what you see and hear, particularly anything related to children. You may even find that things that you thought would be really lovely have proved to be less so for a variety of reasons. So what are the normal emotions during pregnancy and what can you expect?
When it comes to normal emotions either during pregnancy or after you’ve given birth to your baby, it’s a matter of recognizing what is normal and more importantly, what is normal for you so that you know if things are changing.
It’s perfectly normal to feel more emotional during pregnancy. Those wonderful pregnancy hormones are rushing around your body, helping you to create and nurture new life and the result of this can be that you find yourself feeling more emotional when you see or hear stories about children, animals or anything that has an emotional edge to it. The important thing is that you notice if you are finding it harder to cope, to go out, talk to people (particularly if it’s about your pregnancy) and especially talk to people you’ve always been comfortable talking to. If you start to struggle with everyday life tasks that have always been easy for you to go out and do things (not for physical reasons) that you’d normally have no problem with or are you’re avoiding social situations then it’s worth having a chat with your GP or Midwife. In simple terms, if you feel that things are different, it’s time to talk to someone (I’ll come to this in more detail later).
When you’ve had your baby, there is an expectation that you’ll be glowing with pride and multi-task to within an inch of your life. The reality of life with a new baby is that you’re permanently tired and everything takes much, much longer. Perhaps the birth didn’t go as you’d expected and this has left you feeling shell-shocked in some way. This doesn’t have to be because you had a traumatic birth; just that it has traumatized you in some way.
Ways of recognizing that you’re not coping so well can be really simple. For example, are you sleeping? Sleep disruption is a normal part of caring for a new baby but if you’re not getting rest in-between times, you’ll soon find that you’re struggling. Are you managing your visitors? Too many visitors or visitors staying for too long will easily exhaust you and you may not appreciate how hard you’re finding it until it hits you like a brick wall.
A simple way of working out how you’re coping is to recognize what’s normal for you and what has changed. It’s normal to cry when you’ve had a baby. The rise in hormones (particularly around day 3 after delivery) can leave you feeling emotional and the lack of sleep also adds to it. If you feel that you’re crying all the time or at least far more than usual, this may be a sign that you’re struggling. Are you finding it difficult to get the basics done? There will be days that you’re still in your PJ’s at tea time because every time you’ve tried to get in the shower or get dressed, something else has happened and you finally decide to just give in to the day and have a pyjama day. This is absolutely fine and you’re completely allowed to do this. The thing to be aware of is if you’re doing it on a daily basis. If this is the case, just check first that it isn’t because you just happen to like pyjama days! In simple terms, do you feel that you’re coping? This shouldn’t be measured on your pre-baby standards. If you’re the sort of person who has an immaculate house at all times, having a baby changes all of that so don’t measure yourself against your old self too strictly but if you’re finding that simple things are more difficult to cope with, then you may need to talk to someone.
Talking to someone
When I say it may be time to talk to someone, then it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Start with talking to your other half, you mum, sister, best friend or other mums in a group you’re a member of (this is where it’s good to keep up with your ante-natal group after you’ve given birth). Tell them how you’re feeling and you’ll probably find that it’s enough to help. I know that there were times when I really needed someone to tell me that what I was experiencing was normal!
If that isn’t enough, talk to your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP. There are also support groups which you can find through the above to help you appreciate that you’re not alone.
Feeling like you’re struggling isn’t necessarily about having Post Natal Depression. PND is a part of it but many women worry that if they struggle for whatever reason, they’ll be labelled with PND. This is a significant condition that affects women and shouldn’t be overlooked but women can still find that even though they don’t have PND, they need a little more support to get them through this life changing process (lovely as it is) and it can also affect you no matter how many babies you’ve had.
If you’re struggling, never be frightened to talk to someone and get some help. Even if it’s only being listened to, it can make you feel so much better just knowing that someone is there.