You had always envisioned yourself to have a child one day. You spent months preparing. You felt the time was right and were super excited at the prospect of a new addition to your family. You spent hours on the Internet reading up about the do’s and don’ts’ of parenting. You pinned your favorites on pinterest and started getting the nursery ready. You followed the best pregnancy regime and ate a well-balanced nutritional diet and kept yourself fit and active. You immersed yourself in all the antenatal classes on offer and felt well informed and prepared for the times ahead. You prepared your partner too. You told him what to expect and discussed your birth plan with him. All was going ever so well and then the day arrived when you welcomed your precious bundle of joy.
From this point on, every woman has a different story to tell. For some, labour may have been straightforward, exactly as planned, exactly as outlined in their birth plan. Personally for me, labour was excruciatingly long.
After spending the next few days in hospital, it was time to go home. At first, I was thrilled to be home with my baby. To be able to dress her in all those totally adorable clothes I had collected over the previous nine months, to be able to put her into the crib I adorned with the finest organic cotton sheets and just to cuddle up to this incredible little thing I had just popped out. But then, a few days later, I started to feel what I can best describe as ‘overwhelmed’. What started off as just feeling very over tired and sleep deprived was starting to make me very emotional. I was teary for no apparent reason. This is what I had wanted. I had planned to have this baby and had done everything in my power to prepare for her. Then why did I suddenly feel so low?
I recall a relative commenting on how swollen my legs were. There was nothing wrong with what they said, they were just stating the obvious, but I remember secretly going into the room and bursting into tears. Was this normal? Was this what it was supposed to feel like? Did everyone go through this? Was I being ungrateful for the blessing I had been bestowed with? All these questions ran through my mind. I continued day to day making the most of what sleep I was managing to get till one day I realized, what I was actually feeling was something completely normal. It was known as baby blues and after a week or two, once I was getting a bit more sleep, these feelings subsided and I no longer felt so down.
It turns out baby blues are quite common and quite normal for a new mother to experience. ‘Why am I feeling like this?’ ‘I can’t seem to cope’; ‘I’m not a good mother’; ‘what is wrong with me?’ Every new mother may have had or felt these things at some point to a greater or lesser extent. You may feel anxious, teary irritable, overwhelmed or just very exhausted. After all your body has gone through it turns out its completely normal!
In most cases, these feelings will pass, however, sometimes, these feelings may persist or get worse and may go on for longer periods of times. If such is the case, its time to talk about it a bit and wonder whether you could be developing a bit of postnatal depression (PND).
PND (also referred to as Postpartum depression) can occur anytime during the first year after you’ve given birth (and even after that). As mentioned it is different from the Baby Blues as it may be more severe and last for a longer period of time. It’s important to remember that the sooner you catch PND the better it can be managed and get better. The symptoms of PND may include:
- A lack of motivation and concentration
- Feelings of hopelessness
- A lack of interest in anything around you including your baby
- Feeling unable to cope and just feeling very overwhelmed
- Generally feeling unwell with no energy and no appetite
- Feeling sad and teary without knowing why you feel that way
- Having trouble sleeping
- Getting enough sleep but still feeling exhausted all the time
- Feelings of guilt and self doubt
There is no single cause of PND and it is unclear why some mothers may develop it while others don’t. But this is all SO common. You may be looking at other mothers thinking that they are doing so much better than you but believe me, every new mother may have felt these things at some point. The important thing is to be aware and to be able to talk about it. You should know that it can affect anyone and it really isn’t anything to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. There is actually nothing you could do to prevent it, just as you didn’t do anything to cause it. But, the certain thing is, that the sooner you address it, the sooner you can begin your road to recovery. Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
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