Expecting a baby can be a very daunting time for some women. Pregnancy can bring many emotions from excitement to feeling overwhelmed. BUT did anyone tell you how hard it would be becoming a new mum.
So many thoughts and feelings can surface at this time. For many women it is the difficulties faced in actually caring for their baby and for others the caring and nurturing uncovers many negative emotions and thoughts around issues relating to their own mother, lack of support or past mental health issues.
I remember feeling very anxious and sad but didn’t understand why. I had a beautiful baby boy, devoted husband and supportive family and yet was very unhappy; my hormones had taken over.
I feel our society today still through various media, predominantly portray motherhood as being a positive, sweet and joyful time. We rarely discuss the fears and reality of a new mums’ experience.
It is very common for women to feel isolated both physically and emotionally as friends and family maybe working or live far away. Often as mums, we put on our “mask” as we leave the house only to take it down when we return to that safety of home. This can be detrimental to a woman’s mental health.
Anxiety and depression are common after becoming a new mum as well as during pregnancy. It can be treated and managed however there are similar feelings felt that are a normal part of being a new parent. Sometimes these normal thoughts and feelings associated with becoming a new mum, such as exhaustion, teariness and anxiety are present however if they become distressing, impacting your normal daily life and are persistent over a couple of weeks then mothers should find the courage to seek out help and support. Often this is difficult for the mother herself to recognize and it may take an observant partner or family member to notice.
There are many people you can turn to including your GP, PANDA helpline 1300 762 306 as well as family and friends.
Top Tips around managing overwhelming feelings, thoughts and emotions during the early weeks/months of being a new mum:
• If circumstances allow, think about some degree of home help for the first few months to allow you to recover and nurture yourself and your baby.
• Set up a solid support system.
• Take time out fore yourself, you cannot “give” to your baby is your own tank is running on empty.
• Rest when your baby sleeps, the dishes and washing can wait.
• Eat a healthy diet and plenty of water with some daily exercise.
I know it is really hard to often find the time or energy to do some of these things however it is really important to care for yourself and don’t wait until the wheels are falling off to get help. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge any fears or negative feelings. Don’t just push it down otherwise experience suggests it will only resurface at a later time. One of the key elements is your support network. Ensure it is strong and working for YOU.