How's your mental health?
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
I worry about the mental health of new mums, or in fact mums in general.
Having a baby is the most wonderous, powerful and incredible thing that we are blessed to have happen to us, but it can also turn our worlds upside down in a way that we can never be prepared for.
Sleep deprivation alone is torture. I mean, isn't it acutally used as a torture technique somewhere in the world, or maybe just on shows on Netflix? All I know is that broken sleep night after night and then trying to function day after day while caring for a baby or a toddler or both, is one of the hardest things we are asked to do.
At the same time we are trying to get to know our new baby and learn so many new things - breast feeding, nappies, bathing, figuring out which cry means what, how to fit a shower into our day and actually eating nutritious food, all the while our body is healing from giving birth in whatever form that took. It is a lot!
I am no expert in maternal mental health and so I can only speak to my own personal experience. I didn't realise what was happening to me but there were warning signs that I ignored, or didn't realise were there, or maybe they were overpowered by the need to just soldier on.
- I couldn't sleep during the day when my baby slept as I couldn't relax enough to let that happen. I was so worried about something happening to him
- I rarely left the house as it felt way too hard and I was desperate to have him in a routine which meant having him in his own bed for every nap
- He only ever slept for 40 mins at a time during the day and so I used to walk for hours with him in the buggy to help him get the sleep he needed. I lost a lot of weight
- I wouldn't let anyone else look after him
- I was on the phone to Plunket line alot and often in tears. I think they ran the post natal depression checklist on me about three times
- I watched other women in my coffee group get pregnant for the second time and realised I was so far from being ready for that again
- After trying IVF for a second baby, which failed twice, I sat in my fertility specalists office in tears telling her this was all my fault because I strugged too much with my first and so I didn't deserve another baby. She told me it is not normal for a woman to sit across from her and blame herself for everything connected to her fertility. She suggested post natal depression and made me promise to go and see my GP. My son was three
- I believe now that I had undiagnosed post natal anxiety (more than depression) as my anxiety levels went through the roof when I had my son and have never really recovered. I was definitely suffering from depression when I couldn't have a second child, and maybe for bouts along my journey to that point.
We know having a baby is not easy but sometimes for some people the struggle is bigger and harder and those people need support. If alarm bells are ringing for you in any way, please reach out to someone for help.