I really want to start this blog by saying well done and giving you a big hug. If you are reading this because you think you have postnatal depression or you are worried about someone who you think may have it, I am so glad that you are taking steps to find out more about it.
I understand all too well the effects of postnatal depression first hand because it is something that I went through when I had my first born. That said, if you look at my medical record it won't say that, I never got help. I didn't understand at the time what I was going through and I certainly didn't feel comfortable enough to tell that to someone who I thought would judge me. So I suffered in silence.
So what are the effects of postnatal depression? The thing is the answer to this is that it's going to be different for everyone. There will be some things you read below that you will totally relate to and others maybe not so much. The most important thing is for you to understand how you feel right now and know that it is possible for you to change the head space you are in.
Ok maybe this sounds like an obvious one, but if you are suffering with post natal depression, finding that you feel upset, alone and low most of the time then this is definitely something you will want to address. Having a baby is a massive change to everyone's lives and for those who are becoming the primary care giver it may mean less contact with other adults, giving up leisure activities you have enjoyed, losing sleep and having another being requiring your attention most of the time. This pressure is hard and so it is completely understandable that you might start to feel overwhelmed and depressed.
Lack of energy
Like with any form of depression it can totally wipe you out. You start to feel lethargic, not having the energy to do all the things you used to and wanting to stay curled up in bed rather than face the day. Obviously any new mum is going to bed tired and having to adjust to sleepless nights! But it is when your whole body literally feels as though it can't take anymore and you lose the ability to feel motivated to do anything.
Sound familiar? Not feeling as though you can provide everything that your baby needs? The sound of your baby crying can start to become a trigger for this as you develop feelings of not providing enough milk to fill their tummies or not being able to burp them correctly to get rid of their wind. In fact the only thing a baby truly needs is love and as a new parent we all start out having to learn what to do and how to do it. Please, please don't compare yourself to others because although they may look like they have it altogether, they probably don't! You may just be seeing them on a good day or the happy photos they post online and not the other 23 3/4 hours a day when things aren't quite going right!
Concentration and memory issues
Baby brain! I am sure you have heard of this, I always thought this was a total myth but omg! I can't explain how I literally walked around the house for weeks unable to know what I was meant to be doing. Then the weeks seemed to drag on to months! For me this really was something that got me down because I felt as though I had completely lost the plot and I remember feeling terrified that I may never be able to remember things again! But if we think about it, giving birth is a major trauma on our bodies and team that with lack of sleep and all the other changes that we have to adjust to it is no surprise really?!
Loss of eating or even over eating
I often hear from women that they comfort eat, this can stem from childhood when they were given a chocolate bar to make them feel better after falling over or as a special treat. It felt good right as a child, so hey I guess it will make us feel good as an adult too. So logically our mind would try and use this strategy of eating to feel happiness when we are feeling low. Ironically this can have the opposite effect though. It can cause us to put on weight and then feel worse about our appearance. However women can also start to do the opposite. They can feel so low that they lose their appetite altogether, not having the energy to eat, being too busy to eat and losing the ability to prioritise what they need most at this time which is to fuel their body with food!
Not feeling able to bond
Probably the thing that women find the hardest to talk about! No one wants to say 'I don't love my baby' or 'I don't feel attached to my child'. We are led to believe that we give birth and instantly we have this rush of love that fills our whole body and connects us to this little being. However for some of us that simply isn't the case. For some women this then is followed by guilt for not having this feeling as they believe they should, for others it may not even be apparent to them that they haven't bonded. For an outsider though it may be more clear through observations the lack of closeness between the mother and baby.
These are just a few of the effects of post natal depression and like I said before it can display itself in different ways in different people. The most important thing for you if you feel as though you are suffering from this is to know that it is ok, you are normal and for some women this feeling is natural. Once you have accepted this is how you feel there are lots of options for you to get help and support. If you want to discuss this with me then please feel free to email me. email@example.com