Having a baby can be the most wonderful thing in the world, but can also not be. Giving birth to a baby often triggers powerful emotions like excitement and euphoria, but also, in some cases, anxiety. For some people, having a baby can result in something we may not expect: depression.
Most new mums experience "baby blues" after having a baby - mood swings, crying, anxiety and sleeping difficulties – but for some, that develops into Postnatal Depression, or PND. According to the NHS website, 1 in 10 women experience PND within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners.
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 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 – we may feel inadequate as mothers, women, wives, partners...It isn’t hard to understand how, feeling like a failure could bring on depression.
Some of us take to drinking alcohol, when we are depressed. We all know that alcohol isn’t good for us, but how many know just how detrimental the effects of alcohol can be? It can also suddenly be difficult to know if we’re drinking because we’re depressed or if we’re depressed because we’re drinking... Alcohol affects the systems of nerves and chemicals, (in brain and body) that help to control our mood, so cutting back or stopping drinking could improve mood majorly.
Alcohol is a depressant, altering the balance of chemicals in our brain. As we sip our first drink, the alcohol starts to affect the part of the brain associated with inhibition, sometimes making us feel more confident and relaxed. Once our brain has high levels of alcohol affecting it, however, the pleasant effects of that first drink are often replaced by negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger…
Doing a dry month, like Dry January (or February, March, April…), may be a good idea. Without alcohol, our sleep improves, we become more hydrated, we may notice a reduction in tummy pain, nausea, and digestive issues; we’ll also start losing weight and our blood pressure will start to reduce
Making it to the end of a dry month (although this doesn’t have to be the end of sobriety) will mean you actually notice some differences in the way you look and feel.
Tips for getting through a dry month:
Take each day at a time!
Stop drinking together with friends or colleagues
Get rid of any alcohol in the house.
Don’t stop going out with friends, do socialise but have a soft drink instead.
Try alcohol-free drinks, like G&T and beer
Try out a new hobby, like exercising or joining a club.
Make sure to tell friends and family - maybe post on social media – about your challenge, it makes it easier to stick to it
Enjoy not drinking and notice everything you don’t miss about drinking, rather than what you think you’re missing out on
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
If you are feeling depressed and struggling with giving up alcohol, why not talk to someone? A counsellor will have heard it all before, nothing will phase them and they will not judge you; they are there to encourage and support you, guiding the therapeutic process without interrupting or interfering with your process
At Muma Nurture we believe that if you’ve had a bad day and broken your resolution there’s no need to be unkind to yourself or to give up completely.
If you haven’t started yet, there is no bad time to make a start.
We’re here to support you with therapies such as Hypnotherapy, Massage, Reflexology, Nutrition and Counselling, all provided by fully trained therapists.