You’ve wanted this, planned it, pictured it, but now that it’s here – well, you’re not so sure. You were expecting perfection, but what you feel is completely different. In fact, you feel you’re drowning!
Your baby is perfect in every respect, everyone says so… so what’s wrong with you?
Firstly – you are not alone. A study of 4000 mothers in the UK showed one in 5 suffered from post-natal depression, and two-thirds suffered from some form of “baby blues” – many in silence.
Next, you need to make positive steps to turn postnatal depression on its head, and enjoy your brand new baby, without your feelings sucking you into a black hole.
So what you can do?
The good news is that postnatal depression usually improves with time. Studies show that most mothers are over PND within a year. A bit of TLC from family, friends and others can go a long way towards you overcoming your negative feelings. But there are additional tips for helping yourself get back on top of your mood:
- Look after yourself: Make it a priority to care for your own health and wellbeing as much as baby’s. Get the right foods and fluids to boost your system (See Mind’s guide to Mood and Food). Get enough rest: when baby sleeps, so should you – even if that means taking a nap in the middle of the day.
- Talk it out: Having someone to talk to is essential. Whether it’s your partner, mum, friend or your health visitor, talking about your feelings without feeling judged will dramatically improve your mood, and help you deal with concerns and worries. Health visitors, in particular, are there to support your first steps into motherhood. If you have questions about your baby, your own health or how you feel you’re coping, ask them. They will be sure to put your mind at ease. Some are even trained in counselling.
- Let’s get together…: Meet other parents. This will help you normalise what you are going through. Without a doubt, they will have experienced similar issues. Local Mother and Toddler groups are good for this.
- Chill out: Take time each day to relax. Whether you’ve got five minutes or fifty, take time out to calm yourself down with something you enjoy. Try some simple breathing, relaxation or Mindfulness meditation techniques (www.octc.co.uk/online-shop).
Getting more help
Sometimes PND does not clear up on its own. It may remain despite self-help methods. According to government recommended NICE Guidelines, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) works well for Postnatal Depression. CBT is a talking treatment which challenges negative ways of thinking and behaving, replacing them with more helpful thoughts and strategies.
|Thought||Challenge the thought||Look at things differently|
|“I’m a bad mother because my house is not spotless. I should clean it. Other people will think badly of me.”
(…which leads to…feelings of sadness so isolate self from others…feelings of loneliness)
|Be honest: Whose house is really spotless? Is your house really that bad?
Don’t use words like ‘should’ or ‘ought’: Why should you? Where is it written in stone? What will happen if you don’t do it?
Give yourself a break: Would people really think that about you? What evidence do you have of this?
|The house is not that bad. It’s a house for living in, not a showroom.
I could tidy up and clean just one room today.
People see that I’m doing well and baby is happy.
With the help of a trained Cognitive Behavioural Therapist you will learn strategies for overcoming negative thoughts and managing you and your baby’s new world in a more contented way.