A little while ago, I wrote a few articles about being pregnant, looking forward and planning for baby and the little worries you may have had too.
Many think that once baby is here those worries stop, well sorry to say, as you new mums (and mums with older children, too) now know they don’t. My mum makes me laugh as she says I still worry about you.
But going back to, just having had your baby, some mums will experience the 'Baby Blues.' This term is used to describe the general feeling of ‘being low.’
These feelings can range from a ‘little’ or ‘just a few’ and include feeling emotional, irrational or overwhelmed, tearful (without knowing why) maybe irritable and moody or just down and anxious.
It can affect up to 80% of new mums within the first few weeks of having baby and is thought to link to the impact of giving birth, the drop in hormones that are no longer released in your body, the sudden realisation that baby is your responsibility and it is scary, or maybe you love your little one so much its simply overwhelming.
Whatever the reason, 'Baby Blues' do happen to lots of new mums and may last a few days or up to a couple of weeks.
Talking to your family, friends, having as much rest as you can all helps and, of course, being aware that 'Baby Blues' happen to many, many women it’s not just you!
However, unfortunately it is so sad to write that for some mums 'Baby Blues' are worse, going back to the theme of worries and linking this to the 'Baby Blues' there’s a difference between little worries that you can talk through, rationalise in your head, to worries that are simply too much.
This is post-natal depression and at its worse postpartum psychosis. There is a difference and it’s so important to recognise the signs, in yourself, in family and friends who have just had a baby, to not ‘hide the subject’ to recognise how debilitating, exhausting and even dangerous they can be, post natal depression can last for months and have a major impact on bonding and attachment, and postpartum psychosis lead to the need for medication, help in a mother and baby unit.
These are scary, frightening things to consider, but consider we must to ensure that mums suffering can ask for help, get the help they so desperately need but whose condition is making it impossible for them to say, please help me. I can’t write everything here but I can write a quick note of the signs to look out for and suggest you do a little reading and research of your own.
Please do remember that there are many ‘pregnancy and baby professionals’ who have extensive knowledge of these too, they will be happy to talk (either to mum or to you who are so concerned about her) share thoughts, give advice, signpost to agencies that can help, from your midwife, to your health visitor, to the Sure Start lady who leads your breast feeding group just as examples.
Postnatal Depression Signs & Symptoms
Feeling down and teary, inability to concentrate, low sex drive, feeling worthless, inability to feel happiness, sleep problems, anger, finding it difficult to leave the house, overeating, problems bonding with baby.
Postpartum Psychosis Signs & Symptoms
Delusions (possibly about the baby) – having thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true, and that other people don’t share. Hallucinations – sensing smells, visions or voices that don’t exist outside the mind.
Mania – talking quickly, disorganised thinking, restlessness, confusion, appearing ‘high.’ Loss of inhibitions. Behaving out of character – more talkative, active, suspicious, fearful, giggly or sociable than usual.
Depression – low mood, tearful, trouble sleeping. Severe mood swings.
A few voices from women who have experienced these conditions…
“After four months of trying to cope I realised I needed to speak to someone when I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor looking at my beautiful girl asleep in her cot and I thought to myself, 'she would be better off without me.'
"It seemed completely rational until a few days later I said this out loud to my mum. She just said, 'darling, I don't think you are very well.'
"It was simple in the end: after months of terrible emotional pain, I just needed my mum to acknowledge that I was poorly, that I had lost myself completely in a tidal wave of anxiety and guilt, afraid that somehow I was hurting my baby by not being perfect.”
“Shortly after her birth, I began seeing things and hearing things that weren’t really there.”
“I said to Simon: ‘I can’t do this, I can’t look after her.’
"I didn’t care anymore. I just didn’t want to live any more really.
"It’s meant to be the most exciting time of your life having a baby and I didn’t feel it. It wasn’t even about bonding with her, I just didn’t want to exist anymore.“
So, please, if you are a friend or family member of a new mum watch out, and if you are this mum, or even a ‘not so new mum’ who just hasn’t been right since having baby, ask for help, speak up, say, help me, if you can’t speak, could you just pass a friend a note - just write ‘help me.’
Personally, to you mums who are struggling, I don’t know how you feel, but I feel so sad that you feel this way and I know from my re- search that others do know how you feel, that you can get help and things CAN and WILL get better. Be strong, take this step, you CAN and WILL get better - this will pass - lots of love and get well wishes xxx
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