Starting your family beyond just you and your partner is a big (very exciting and scary) step. Deciding when to try to get pregnant, experiencing how long it may or may not take, and then all of the busy tasks of pregnancy itself - from midwife appointments to deciding what this very small human actually needs in their nursery.
And then the time comes for baby to enter this world and there are suddenly 3 of you in your family. Or of course if this isn't your first child then there may now be 4, 5, 6 (or more!) of you.
What happens next? How will you feel and what feelings are "normal" and for how long? Many woman by the time they give birth will have heard the term 'Postnatal Depression', either from a medical professional or a close friend or family member. But what does it mean? And how is it different from the 'Baby Blues' that every baby book and blog article suggests we may get?
So here are the basics. When you are pregnant all of your hormones change to support this life you are growing. When you give birth, all of these hormones have a massive shift as suddenly after 9 (ish) months, you are no longer pregnant, and also your hormones are now trying to establish lactation for breastfeeding and are releasing surges of love to help bond mother and baby. Therefore it is unsurprising that along with feelings of exhaustion, wonder and often shock, that in the first couple of days your hormones can leave you feeling slightly not yourself. This is where the term 'Baby Blues' comes from. Often to affect women around day 3 or 4 post birth, it is the culmination of the change in hormones and can leave you feeling tearful and a little low. This can surprise many women as they are often so happy at the same time to have their bundle of joy! 'Baby Blues' tends to last just a few days whilst the body readjusts itself and then you may feel on a more even keel.
Postnatal Depression or anxiety affects 1 in 10 women and is typified by feelings of low mood, tearfulness, loneliness and an inability to bond or want to care for your baby. It has many of the same characteristics of depression, with sufferers struggling to have motivation or achieve basic tasks and can feel like they are masking their emotions to appear a certain way to others. Having a baby, whether your first or later one, is a huge accomplishment and ordeal, and this can take its toll. Markers to watch out for are consistently low moods continuing for weeks, no desire to care for your newborn, extreme emotions with feelings of not being able to cope and a lack of excitement or positive moods.
Contrary to popular belief, Postnatal Depression affects women with more than one child more than first time mums, so please do not think that as you have already given birth that you have to do it all by yourself this time!
There is so much great help out there from Health Visitors, Midwives, Doctors and Breastfeeding Clinics, so please do speak to anyone if you ever experience low feelings or thoughts after the birth. And keep your eyes open for all your friends with new babies! Even when we say we are 'fine', we may need love and support.
For further information about anything to do with Postnatal Depression please do check out the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/
Mhairi @ Wild Air Wellbeing