Becoming a parent is one of the most magical rides you can go on in your life, but it is not without its bumps. Maternal mental health is often mislabelled, misdiagnosed or the conversation is avoided altogether. Let’s look at ways we can recognise problems with our mental health, whether that’s just catching ourselves when we are feeling low and overwhelmed or if something more serious may be going on.
It can be difficult to decipher between normal and problematic postnatal emotions and thoughts. We are told about the baby blues and hormone changes, but do you know how to tell when it’s no longer these things? Those baby blues consist of crying, poor sleep, irritability, and spells of anxiety, these occur usually within the first 3 days of having your baby but should not last longer than 2 weeks. The signs of post-natal depression and anxiety can be much more debilitating and occur much longer than those first initial weeks after birth. Here is a list of some signs and symptoms below
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms it is especially important that you reach out to a health care professional.
What if I do not have depression or anxiety?
Feeling low or overwhelmed does not always mean you are suffering from depression or anxiety; mental health is much more than these labels. Everyone goes through low spells in life, or times when we feel overwhelmed and struggle to cope so it is important to put time into dealing with these spells so that they do not escalate into more. What can we do to help ourselves? Let’s look at ways we can support our own mental health below.
Unfortunately, most parents don’t seek help even though there are resources out there. Admitting to yourself that you may be having problems with your mental health can be difficult let alone confiding in family and family. An effective way to start the conversation is to join some online forums, a lot of people find it easier to speak without the pressure of being face to face and having the anonymity of being online.
Take a walk, a long hot bath, meet up with friends, maybe take up a new hobby. What feels like self-care to you? Do that! A few minutes each day to put your needs first. You were a person before this title of parent, it’s important not to forget that.
No one is perfect, we are not meant to be. Take comfort in the things that go well and stop putting emphasis on the things that don’t. Parenting is a huge learning curve, no one is expecting you to know everything, so why are you expecting that of yourself?
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Let that friend help with the baby while you have a nap, let your family bring you shopping…. take the help. There is no shame in accepting help when you need it.
If you have recently given birth to your little one try speaking with a community midwife, GP and/or health visitor about how you are feeling. There are also great Facebook pages and groups that offer support from fellow mums, dads, and guardians. These groups can be a fantastic way to make new friends or talk with someone in a more comfortable way. And lastly there are charities and support networks out there that may be able to help practically and emotionally, try researching for these in your local area.