This blog post has been written for us by private midwife Laura Meredith-Hobbs and it really is such an important topic! Lack of sleep is one of the leading contributors to postnatal depression so if you are feeling overwhelmed or can relate to any of the feelings raised in this blog, do talk to someone about it! You can get help and start feeling a little more you again!
“Postnatal depression can creep up, it can develop very gradually.
My experience had no rhyme or reason, no pattern that I could avoid or prevent; it just snuck up on me. I don’t think I was able to name it for while, I was just blue, I was just tired, I was just isolated, and I was just….. I owned it many years later, the benefit of experience enabling me to name it and understand it, why I was not myself when my daughter was a new born. Why I have a mass of blank memories of when she was changing and growing, becoming that most delightful inquisitive toddler.
Now as a midwife I would love for us to talk more openly about postnatal depression. To name it. Talk to your partner, family, friends. Postnatal depression can be very frightening but with support can be managed.
Postnatal depression affects more than one in every ten women within a year after giving birth. It can also affect your partner, but this is less common.
Postnatal depression can have a massive impact on your family, but, if we can talk about it before the baby is born, it will give you a chance to ask for help when you need it.
Some women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth; we call this the ‘baby blues’ and this is so common that it is considered normal. The ‘baby blues’ do not last for more than two weeks after giving birth so if your symptoms last longer you may have postnatal depression.
Women are so very good at coping, carrying on, we put on a smile, we cuddle our babies. But sometimes we just don’t connect, the smile not quite reaching our eyes, not feeling comfortable looking into our baby’s eyes, making that connection.
Postnatal depression can present itself in many ways, such as a feeling of sadness or persistently low mood, taking no enjoyment and having no interest in things going on around you. You may feel very tired and consistently have little energy, trouble sleeping at night, not wanting to have contact with other people, lacking concentration or difficulties making decisions, frightening thoughts even about hurting your baby. This can be very frightening and feel overwhelming, but by talking to our partners, family and friends before the baby is born we can put in place a safety net. Our partner, family and friends know us best, we need to be proactive and empower them to act on our behalf if they feel we are not ourselves or they are worried about us.
Midwives and Health Visitors should ask about your mental well being every time they see you after you have had the baby. It may not be your midwife that has looked after you during your pregnancy and so it can be very difficult to open up to a stranger and name postnatal depression. Women are very good at carrying on, saying “I’m fine and everything is wonderful”, where in fact we are falling apart and having a good cry in the toilet when nobody is looking. If it is a different midwife they are not going to be able to spot signs of postnatal depression so easily, as they do not know you well enough to see the difference in your mood and demeanour. They may not be able to pick up on subtle changes that could indicate postnatal depression or the fact that you are struggling and need a little more support.
Motherhood is a hard and difficult job, we may think we have done everything we can to prepare for it, but our roles change so drastically, in such a short time, it can knock us for six. But if you could enable your partner to raise concerns on your behalf then we can start putting support into place for you.
With good support, which can include self-help strategies and therapy, most women make a full recovery. It is not your fault you are depressed, it can happen to anybody.
Being depressed does not make you a bad parent. You are not going mad your baby wont be taken away from you. It is ok not to be ok it is ok to ask for help, you have not failed.
Name postnatal depression. Talk about postnatal depression.”
If you think you might be affected by postnatal depression, talk to someone. This could be your partner, friends, family or your midwife/health visitor or GP. Don’t suffer in silence – don’t say ‘Im fine’ by getting help you really can start to feel better!
If you think you may benefit from Laura’s help and support you can contact her on 07979328695