Why do I feel so low after the birth of my baby?

Royal baby news

Baby talk is the forefront of most people’s mind this week as we welcome the arrival of our new baby prince to his proud parents, William and Kate. Woman’s Hour mentioned that 80% of the population would be feeling happy on Monday. A close friend of mine heard this and said “Maybe some of us aren’t  joyous, as the pain of seeing a healthy baby. It saddens us when it reminds us of our own losses and failures”.  She had suffered Post Natal Depression (PND) with her first child and only remembers tears and sadness in the first year of her baby’s life. We are slowly hearing of more and more women who suffer from PND and there are a lot more who continue to suffer in silence. Postnatal depression affects 15% of expectant mothers.

What is post natal depression?

Postnatal depression (PND) often presents within one or two months of giving birth. Everyone expects to be happy after having a baby so when depression creeps in, you may feel distressed, or guilty, as you are expecting to feel happy.  It is important to remember that PND can happen to anyone and it does not discrimination. Postnatal depression and men. Yes, it can also happen to men whose partner are suffering from PND or are feeling the financial burden of a new born.pndpic

Symptoms of PND are:

  • feeling low, unhappy and tearful for much or all of the time
  • feeling irritable with your partner, baby or other children
  • feeling exhausted and lacking in energy
  • not able to sleep, even though are you tired
  • lying awake at night worrying about things and not able to sleep when the baby is sleeping
  • not able to enjoy your time with your baby or have any interest in anything
  • having negative feelings and have no faith in yourself
  • feeling anxious and ‘over’ worrying about your baby
  • isolating yourself and avoiding socialising with other people

What can you do?

Try to find someone to talk too. The Pandas Foundation provides a telephone help line where you can talk to someone anonymously. Alternatively you may find it helpful to talk to your GP or a BACP qualified counsellor.

A lot of women worry that their baby will be taken away from them if they admit they are feeling depressed or feel they are not coping. This is not always the case. Many people have PND and recover in time.

 Below are some self-help tips you can try:

  • Share your problem. Family friends can be more helpful if they know what the problem is.
  • Try to rest as often as possible. When the baby sleeps take the opportunity to sleep too.
  • Eat regularly and eat healthy food.
  • Find some time to do something that you enjoy that will help you relax. For example, go for a walk, or coffee with a friend.
  • Join a local mother and toddler group – you may even find other Mum’s who feel like you do. Your health visitor will have a list of local groups.
  • Exercise.  Walking can boost your mood and help you feel relaxed.

The use of online counselling

You may find that having time to talk someone is difficult when you have a young baby. Considering online counselling (or etherapy) may be a possible solution for you.

Additional help 

Pandas Foundation is a voluntary organisation that helps individuals and their families with pre- and postnatal depression advice and support. They have a helpline (open 9am to 8pm) with volunteers who have all previously suffered from post natal depression. Ring 0843 28 98 401 or have a look at their website.

Useful reading

Williams, C, Cantwell, R, Robertson, K (2012) Overcoming Postnatal Depression: A Five Areas Approach. This book addresses all the common challenges faced by women during times of low mood after having a baby and uses the proven five areas model of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

 

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Hazel Hill has a private supervision and counselling practice in Sheffield. As well as having a private Sheffield and online practice, her clinical experience includes working for IAPT, EAP's affiliate work, and charity. Hazel specialises in workplace counselling, bereavement, anxiety and depression and outdoors counselling. You can contact her on 07814 363855

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