Mental health after having a baby can be a fragile being. Both mothers and fathers can suffer from mental health issues arrising from the birth of a child.
Mental health is at the forefront of every news outlet. Especially over the last 10 days, with the sad news of another celebrity taking their own life. Caroline Flack had reached breaking point, where the only way out she could see was to take her own life. She was a young, talented and beautiful woman but this did not prevent the waste of an amazing life!
If a woman who seemingly appears to have a perfect life can suffer with her mental health. Then it is maybe easier to see and understand how a new parent whether it be a new mum or a new dad can suffer from the same.
Mental Health in parents
As a new parent or even an experienced one, life can be overwhelming. It’s not necessarily the big things but it’s an accumulation of all the little things! From exhaustion, dirty nappies, bottles, midnight feeds, school, trying to run a house, work, keep in touch with friends and so the list goes on.
It is very normal to feel overwhelmed. Becoming a parent has a huge impact on your life. The changes are unprecedented and mind-blowing! But what every single person needs to know is that they are not alone and there is always someone there to support and help you.
The most common form of mental health issues after a baby is born is postnatal depression. This is usually associated with mothers although often fathers can suffer from it too. It is very common with it affecting at least one in ten women within the first year of their child’s life. This figure is more than likely much higher, as many women still do not seek treatment or help.
Don’t confuse postnatal depression with the baby blues. They are two very different things! Baby blues are ‘normal’ after the birth of a child as hormone levels start to return to normal, this can cause a huge dip. This can affect many women making them weepy, anxious and emotional. But it will usually clear up within the first 10 days.
Postnatal depression is a completely different beast and the effects can be long-reaching. The signs will be different for each person as we all deal with things in different ways. Your friends or partner may even spot the signs before you do.
The signs can range in feelings of sadness that don’t go away, loss of interest in the world, lack of appetite, feelings of self-loathing to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Many mums have good days and bad days. But if you are feeling these continually then you need to seek help and support from a professional, you could approach your health visitor or doctor.
Traumatic birth- the aftermath
Mental health issues can occur many years after birth but can be traced back to their earliest moments of motherhood. For me, this is very true. I had a very traumatic birth in which we nearly lost our son, he is now 18 months old. Now as this was not my first pregnancy I very much brushed aside this fact. I got on with life with my new son.
That was a huge mistake on my part, his birth was and still is to this day a bit of a blur. I remember bits and pieces and get flashbacks of them resuscitating him. These feelings have caused me to experience patches of mental health issues that could have been avoided if I had dealt with my traumatic birth straight away. The fear of not being that perfect mother and the stigma of having a label placed on me prevented me from doing so.
Unfortunately, we are not always aware of how close someone is to the edge. We never know what people are dealing with and because they put a smile on their face we believe that they are happy. This is one of the greatest mistakes that we make as a society. We should be learning from those in the public eye that have taken their own life, that a smile hides an often beaten soul!
So let us teach our children by example. that we need to be kind. Help people up instead of beating them down. Most importantly let us show our children how to be kind to each other.