Guest post by Alexandra Capel
When my little girl was 8 weeks old, I was diagnosed with post-natal depression. Here are my ’10 things I want you to know about PND’
It is ok to not be ok! We are only human, not robots and the first few weeks after giving birth are tremendously hard for some people and this included me. The ‘baby blues’ weren’t so easy on me and I couldn’t quite understand what was happening to me. Well, I was struggling with PND. Once I was able, to understand what it was and how giving birth affected your hormones massively! A huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I could focus on recovery.
Please do not be afraid to ask people for help! This includes your partners, husbands, wives, friends and family. Hormones are a strange thing… After having a baby they can go a little overboard but people around you DO want to help you so let them. You are not doing this alone. When I had my little girl, I knew I had just been through an amazing, life changing experience! I know I needed some help at the beginning, as it is very tough! Especially if you are trying to breastfeed, you feel this huge pressure of providing for your baby and that can sometimes take a toll on you. I was mentally exhausted but fortunately, I had amazing family and friends who were able to do simple things like doing the dishes and holding my baby for 5 minutes while I could go and shower.
PND does not disappear overnight and you cannot just ‘snap out of it’. It takes time and work to come out on the other side of depression. It can make you feel tired, less sociable, and distant from everything and doing the simplest tasks like brushing your hair can be incredibly hard. With the correct support, it will get better but one session of counselling is not going to solve anything overnight (as much as I wish it could).
You do love and care for your baby. Right at the height of my depression, I was having dreams that I had left my little girl somewhere and completely forget about her. I am here to tell you – that is not going to happen! As much as you feel down, you care for your little baby and you are not a bad mum for having these thoughts or wishing for one night of uninterrupted sleep. I had moments where I thought I could not be a mum anymore and my little girl deserved someone better than me but I cannot stress this to you lovely women reading this enough, you ARE enough and always will be!
Did you know that PND affects more than one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth? I don’t think people realise how common it actually is and how it can happen to anyone. It never has to be straight away and you could start feeling down after months and months of happiness! However, please don’t be afraid of these feelings. I was and the first 8 weeks was very hard, and because I didn’t speak up sooner I was carrying on like nothing was wrong when deep down I knew something wasn’t quite right.
Did you know that men could get it too? In a different way obviously, as they weren’t the one who just birthed a child! There is no scientific reason to why dads become depressed after a baby is brought into the family, but they can struggle as much as you and it may be even harder for both parents to be struggling whilst caring for a newborn. That is why communication is very important between parents and remember, ask for help!
It can be very hard to admit to yourself that you are struggling at the beginning but with time, it will adjust and you will be able to seek help a lot quicker. It took me a while for it to sink in that I had depression, as I didn’t want it (who does). I wanted to be happy and I should’ve been happy. I just had my little miracle after being told of having very low chances of conceiving naturally with PCOS. Of course, I wanted to be happy but I couldn’t and this is ok but admitting it to yourself is the first step over the big hurdle you are facing! I hope that if someone is struggling and reading this that the blog helps you speak to somebody. You are not alone.
PND could be triggered by a traumatic birth or life event but it can sometimes just appear without a trigger. I had an amazing pregnancy, amazing support and a very relaxed birth, yet I felt sad. I had no idea why this had happened to me but I am still learning to be kind to myself and to realise that I will have down days and that is ok. I still need time to let my mind heal and feel what I need to feel in order for me to grow from it.
I feel like this is a very important one – your baby will NOT be taken away from you if you suffer with PND. Many mums I have spoken to who are struggling emotionally will not speak to their health professionals in fear of their baby being taken from them. Unless you are at serious risk of yourself or your child – this will NOT happen. So please talk to someone, even if this is just a friend or family member. Right now, you may not realise how much they can help but, they can!
The most important one is that as much as you are feeling you won’t, you WILL get better. This is just something unfortunate that you have to go through in your life for whatever reason and you will come out a stronger person in the end. You need to give yourself a massive pat on the back!!! You have gone through something very huge and it is going to take a while to adjust to the new routine but you need to give yourself some credit too! It does not matter how the baby was delivered. You did it and that is something you should be damn proud of!! Please don’t let depression define who you are as a person.
Being a parent is hard work! However, the smiles and the giggles makes it all worth it and you will love them with every inch of you. It is also the most rewarding thing in the world and I promise you that your babies love you as much as you love them.
You can follow Alexandra’s motherhood journey on her Instagram channel.