It’s one of those things in life that you’re fully prepared for, but nothing can really prepare you for at the same time.. You’ve been building up to this moment for months, all the excitement of finally welcoming your new little bundle of joy into your world, and it’s right here. You’ve made it through those first nights you were warned about – flooded with immense hormones, endless exhaustion and many many hours watching your beautiful baby’s every single tiny movement.
After a while the midwife visitors start to come less often, family get back to their usual routines, your partner goes back to work and everything starts getting back to normal – but things are far from normal for you, in fact your normal has been completely turned upside down.
If you’re feeling that 10 days are turning into one, if you’re slowly reverting into a dark place, if you feel like you’re drowning, then you’re not alone. ‘More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression’.
What was once easy to get up and go, pee when you needed, eat what and when you liked – aka freedom, has now turned into having 20 bags full of ‘just in case’ stuff, a crying baby while (what feels like) trying to complete a marathon. This little baby is now fully your responsibility and it’s scary we admit! This cute little creature now relies 100% on you for absolutely everything.
What is postnatal depression and anxiety?
Postnatal anxiety and depression can be a frightening, lonely and an isolating experience – on top of the sleep deprivation and conflicting information from the 10 million books and websites you’ve already read, it can seem almost impossible to get out of this hole – It’s no wonder why many parents have self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
The early stages of parenthood is both an exciting and challenging time – a massive decision of your life, one that actually changes yours and your partner’s life forever. Adding anxiety and/or depression to the mix can be extremely difficult to cope with as you will start questioning if you’re a good parent. Both men and women can experience Postnatal Depression and Anxiety from conception right up to a year after giving birth.
You’re a good parent. It’s easy to feel guilty or shame that you need to seek for help. Having postnatal depression and/or anxiety doesn’t make you a bad parent. By seeking help, it will help you to have a faster recovery with less impact on you, your life and your relationship with your baby, partner and family.
Furthermore, with the added pressure of social media, you can often feel not good enough. Even though so much can be gained by social media through being the main point of contact and socialising, so much damage can still be done – mostly subconsciously. Give yourself permission to not be contactable 24/7, sometimes all you need is a little break. Additionally, take some time to analyse your social follows. If some people make you feel terrible just remove them. Most importantly, remember every parent is different, rarely do parents post the daily struggles on their social media, nobody’s life is perfect. It’s all about finding balance, and finding what’s right for you.
Feeling trapped? We’ve been there. We promise, the feeling will pass, it won’t last forever. But until then, we have a few ways to help you get back to yourself in no time.
- First up, not a nice one but, accept the fact that you will be judged. However, take it lightly because even if you did the perfect thing, people will always have their own opinions. Bottle feeding vs breast, taking mum’s surname vs taking dad’s, natural birth vs C-Sections, whatever it is people will always judge (unfortunately!) So don’t take anything like that personally. You’re doing great!
- Take some time out alone – whether it’s for a 15 minute bubble bath or for a stroll around the block. Ask your partner or a family member to look after the baby from anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours, and tell them to only disturb you if it’s an emergency, so you can relax.
- Ask for help – you’re allowed. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, invite some family and/or friends round, talk about how you’re feeling and exchange stories, you’ll be amazed how quickly you will feel back to normal. Moreover, outsource tasks if you need to, can’t get round to cleaning the house? Get a cleaner for an hour, you’ve got other things to take care of.
- Look after you – Eat well and exercise lightly, and often. By doing this, you’ll start to feel better in no time. Your body will be getting everything it needs in order to start feeling great! Avoid teas, chocolate and coffee (sorry!) as this will increase your anxiety further.
- Get some vitamin D – take advantage of the New Zealand weather! It doesn’t have to be for long if you don’t want to, just take you and your baby outside for a stroll around the park and back.
- Attend a playgroup and/or a baby class – this will help you to socialise with other mums and dads (with the added bonus of getting you out of the house!) It not only helps parents get out, socialise and exchange stories, but helps you to find that connection to your new little miracle.
Having a baby can be a pain that has a reward. Parenting is hard, you unfortunately don’t get given a manual when you give birth. The tears, the confusion and the terror will become worth it.
If having a baby is not the best reward in the world – then we don’t know what is!