Counsellor Sarah Barr provides advice for feeling better when pregnancy and post-pregnancy stir up negative emotions.
It is estimated that one in five women in Ireland will suffer from antenatal or post-natal depression. Post-natal depression can develop up to 12 months post delivery.
World Maternal Mental Health Day is tomorrow, 3rd of May. This is a day that gives attention to women’s mental and well-being during and after pregnancy.
Becoming a mum is a huge life changing event, which can impact greatly on our mental health. We are told that pregnancy and post pregnancy are one of the happiest times of our lives.
So what happens when it isn’t? We feel that there is something wrong with us? Do we compare ourselves to other mums? Feeling overwhelmed and anxious?
Sometimes we hide how we feel. We put on our ‘mask’. We show the world that we got this. Everything is perfect and great. We constantly worry that our mask will slip off and everyone will see that we are barely living, barely eating and barely sleeping. Anxiety is our fuel that keeps us going.
We become ‘experts’ at hiding our true feelings and we hide behind our smile and excuses.
Pregnancy and post-pregnancy are not always the ‘happiest’ times of a women’s life. So let’s not assume that it is.
“My knowledge of postpartum-or post-natal, as we call it in England-is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life . . . . It can come in many different forms”.- Adele.
Some symptoms of PND include:
- Depressed mood
- Severe mood swings
- High anxiety
- Crying a lot
- Difficulty in bonding with baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Fear of harming yourself or your baby
- Suicidal thoughts.
“At my lowest, I was a robot. I just didn’t feel anything. I had no maternal feelings for him – it was awful. I couldn’t connect, and still, when I look at pictures of him at 3 months old, I don’t remember that time. “My problem was that I never acknowledged anything was wrong. I didn’t put two and two together.”- Gwyneth Paltrow.
Below are some tips that you can incorporate into your life that may have a positive impact on how you’re feeling.
It is believed that your brain needs at least 4-5 hours of sleep to regulate your mood. Sleep deprivation over time can cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. A good night’s sleep is not always possible with a baby, as they tend to wake throughout the night. So perhaps ask your partner or a family member to help at night.
It is important to keep your energy levels up. It is recommended to avoid caffeine and processed carbs. However it is also important to recognise that we all deserve a treat. I for instance cannot live without my coffee, therefore I do not want to preach! If you do feel your diet needs improved making an appointment with a nutritionist or dietitian is an option.
Gentle walking on a daily basis can make a huge difference to your mood. If walking is not your thing, how about yoga or baby yoga? Beaus & Belles offer a class in Letterkenny that allows you to take your baby along.
4. Adult Time
Sometimes being a mum can be very lonely and isolating. We can miss adult interaction and conversation, so making time for you is important. Organise some self-care, re-connect with friends over lunch, have a date night or join a class or group. This will give you time to recharge and feel like you again.
If you find it difficult to talk about how you’re feeling, remember you’re not alone.
You do not deserve to suffer in silence.
Help is available. You can contact your doctor or myself on 086 4477867/ or send a private message on my Facebook page.
You deserve to feel well.