Sarah Barr from the New Beginnings Counselling Service shares ideas on how to adjust mentally to the huge life change that motherhood brings.
We are given so much advice from other mums, nurses, doctors, books the internet and so on about what to expect when we are pregnant. But what about after your baby arrives? What then? Where are the books and advice on how to handle the changes to your body, your mind and your role?
“Anxiety or panic attacks can come out of the blue or be set off by specific triggers”.
We can put so much pressure on ourselves, to be the ‘best’ mother or the ‘best partner’, we do not focus on doing what is best for us. Postnatal depression is happening, mothers dealing with anxiety daily is happening. Preferring to stay at home, keeping busy or isolating themselves. Wakening throughout the night, that is if they do manage to fall asleep. Re-playing what happened during the day, and giving themselves a really hard time. This is happening. Yet very few people talk about it.
So how about, we pick up the phone, check-in with our friends, our sisters, our neighbours and really ask ‘how are you?’.
“You are NOT alone on this life-changing journey”.
Becoming a mother is hard. It is life-changing, and it can completely shake us up and spit us out.
The first few weeks following delivery, can really hit us. This can be caused by fluctuating hormones, a traumatic birth or adapting to our new role. If you are finding it hard to adjust, deal with anxiety or feeling lost, go gentle on yourself. Below I have listed some ideas that may help;
Check how you are feeling, and be aware of your thoughts.
If you are feeling and thinking negatively quite a bit, try talking to someone you trust or make an appointment with your doctor or a counsellor. With a little treatment and time, you should be back to feeling yourself.
You are still you.
Taking on a new role as a mum is no easy task. Adjusting to being your own brand of a modern mum can take time. It is important to remember that you are also still all the other things you were before your baby arrived. Take time out for yourself and do something that you love; go for a walk, meet a friend for a coffee or go and get pampered. Don’t forget about you!
Talk, talk, talk.
By opening up and talking about how you are feeling, may seem scary. But we just don’t talk enough about PND and anxiety. We all have a story, the mother standing next to you at the school gate, the friend on Facebook, the lady in your local playgroup…the point is we do not know how everyone is feeling, nor do we know what struggles they face or have faced.
Take off your mask.
We put on our ‘mask’ and boom we are strong, in-control and coping. Yet this is not real, and can become exhausting to maintain. It is okay, if your house is not gleaming or if when you get home you take off your bra and pull on your jogging bottoms or you take some time for you. Who will know? Who will check? Where are the Stepford wives police committee?! Forget some of the ‘I musts’ and ‘I shoulds’ that you tell yourself and do what makes you happy!
Join a group, there are many parent/baby, parent/toddler groups in Donegal. Along with breastfeeding groups, baby yoga and baby dance classes. Also there are PND support groups throughout Donegal, such as Postnatal Depression Support Inishowen. Remember you are not alone. If you are on Facebook, Letterkenny Babies page post anonymous questions and queries related to babies/children/parents. By realising that other parents have the same worries, can help. Also the girls on the page update new and local groups that are available in Donegal.
Nurture is an Irish charity supporting women experiencing maternal mental health issues. They have opened a new base in Donegal this month, located on the High Road, Letterkenny. The service provides counselling on a one-to-one basis in person, by telephone and via Skype. Nurture are operating in Letterkenny and Donegal Town and you can contact local Counsellor Debbie Kremer through the charity via 018430930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst PND or increased anxiety does not happen to every mum post-delivery, a little bit of awareness of what to expect when you are no longer expecting, is a good thing. It may help you, or someone close to you.
Go easy on yourself, we all have our worries and fears, yet this does not mean we are any less of a mother or a woman.
We are all doing the same job…so let’s stick together and kick mental health stigma out the door!