Having a baby can be the most wonderful thing in the world, but it doesn’t have to be. Giving birth to a baby can trigger lots of powerful emotions like excitement and euphoria, but also, in many cases, dread and anxiety. For some people, having a baby can result in something we may not expect: depression.
Most new moms experience "baby blues" after having a baby and this usually includes mood swings, crying, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, perhaps lasting up to two weeks.
Some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression, known as Postnatal Depression, or PND. According to the NHS website, 1 in 10 women experience PND within a year of giving birth and it can also affect fathers and partners.
A more extreme mood disorder called Postpartum Psychosis, can also develop after childbirth, but this is much rarer.
Suffering with PND doesn’t mean we have a character flaw or that we are weak. Perhaps there was a complication while we were giving birth to our baby, or it has something to do with our surroundings and circumstances. Many of us feel pressured by all the seemingly perfect, happy new mums around us with their seemingly perfect, happy babies, making everything look so simple, when we’re in fact finding motherhood and all the changes it brings, very difficult. If we don’t feel the euphoria others seem to feel around the new baby - if ours isn’t sleeping well, cries a lot, or if we can’t get along with breast-feeding – to name just a few common reasons - we may feel inadequate as mothers, women, wives, partners...It isn’t hard to understand how, feeling like a failure could make us depressed. It ties in with our fundamental need to feel loved, safe, good enough - our self-worth.
It is important that we openly talk about PND, so that we lower the stigma and realise it is completely ‘normal’; there is help out there. The quicker a new mum realises this, the quicker she can learn how to manage her symptoms and help her bond with her new baby. PND is very difficult and can feel insurmountable, but with the right help, is treatable. Many women find having counselling helpful
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy - the BACP - is the professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK. Their definition of counselling states that “Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies. They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change and/or enhance their wellbeing”.
The therapeutic relationship – that between a counsellor and the client – is very different from that of friends, colleagues or family members. The counsellor’s room is a space where you can just be yourself and talk about anything and everything on your mind, without worrying about feeling guilty of ‘burdening’ anyone with your heavy thoughts. The therapeutic hour when you see your counsellor, is just yours and you use it as you choose. The counsellor is there just for you, to offer an empathic and genuine listening ear, without judgment.
[Please contact Muma Nurture if you think you are suffering from PND and would like some counselling. We are here to help!]