Early parenthood is period of seismic change, affecting people physically, emotionally and psychologically. You are not the only one not enjoying every second of looking after your baby. I promise. However, some new-parents experience depressed mood which affects their ability to function, and wonder if they have postnatal depression.
In this article you will have a better understanding of
- What postnatal depression might feel like, and how its different from the ‘Baby Blues’
- Ten things you can do today to help yourself if you are feeling depressed
- How postnatal depression therapy can help
What are the ‘Baby Blues’?
Many women feel low in mood, tearful or anxious in the first few days after having a baby. This known as the ‘Baby Blues’, and very common. The baby blues lasts for a few days and fades away when the initial hormonal changes have settled down. Usually around two weeks after having your baby.
What does postnatal depression feel like?
Postnatal depression affects approximately one in ten women after they have a baby. It feels differently for different people. The NHS website describe common signs as: persistent sadness and low mood; lack of enjoyment or interest in the wider world; lack of energy/feeling tired; trouble sleeping; difficulty bonding with your baby; withdrawing from other people; problems concentrating and making decisions.
Postnatal depression usually start within the first three months after having a baby, but can start in the first year.
It doesn’t only affect mothers. Fathers and partners are also affected at the same rate. A fact often overlooked by professionals.
Why does postnatal depression happen?
Firstly, this isn’t happening because you are failing or not trying hard enough. And it doesn’t make you a bad parent.
There are lots of things that make people more at risk for feeling depressed in early parenthood. This may include difficulties adjusting to early parenthood changes. Having few family or friends to support you. Previous episodes of depression. Recent stressful events. Which may include a traumatic journey to early parenthood itself, such as pregnancy or baby loss or birth trauma, for example.
What can I do if I think I have postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression can make you feel stuck and it’s hard to know how to move forward. So here are ten things you can do today to help yourself….
- Make an appointment with your GP or Health Visitor. There might be medication options, but they should also refer you for postnatal depression therapy (available in the NHS and independently).
- Talk to your partner (if your partnered) or a friend. It be hard to feel vulnerable but you may find it leads to a deeper connection with them.
- Look after yourself – simple things like regular meals, drinks, rest, exercise.
- Accept any offer of help. Every…Single….Time.
- Connect with people – create a village around yourself.
- Do something out of the house everyday. Make a weekly plan and stick to it.
- Write a list of people you can call on a bad day. Stick this where you can see it, or put it into your phone.
- Make a plan to have regular space away from your baby to do something that is yours alone.
- Start a journal or blog where you can begin to make sense of your feelings
- Know that ‘thoughts are not facts’. Just because your mind says something does not make it true.
*If you are feeling unsafe or having thoughts about harming yourself then please speak to a GP, call NHS on 111 or go to A&E in an emergency.
How postnatal depression therapy can help
Postnatal depression therapy is a safe space to be open about the conflicting feelings you may have, without fear of judgement. The first step is always help to make sense of your unique situation, before deciding what kind of approach is likely to be most helpful.
For example, CBT focusses on the impact of thoughts and behaviours on your feelings. EMDR therapy can be helpful when there’s evidence that traumatic past events play a part in your current difficulties.
Contact me to find out how I can support you.
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Miriam ~ Helping you have Better Beginnings
I am a highly experienced Clinical Perinatal Psychologist specialising in helping people in the perinatal period. Supporting women who are hoping to be mothers, preparing to be mothers or are mothers already.
I started Better Beginnings after experiencing challenges on my own journey to motherhood. It made me reflect on how hard this period can be. Fortunately, I had a group of friends who were there to support me. But if I felt like this, with my psychologist training, how were other parents coping?
I became passionate about using my expertise as a Perinatal Clinical Psychologist to make a positive difference to other mother’s early parenthood experiences.