May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness month, so what better month to focus on Postnatal Depression, Anxiety and Psychosis for my Real Mums series. Bloggers around the globe are focusing on PND and PNA as their topics for the month, including this amazing series by the Mommy in Flats called “We are the Face of Motherhood” (keep an eye on my blog this Thursday for my own post as a part of this series). To start off my own Real Mums series for this month, I wanted to share a bit of information regarding what Postnatal Depression and Anxiety actually is (with the Psychosis component to come in the coming weeks), and so I decided to ask a professional to share some insight. Amanda is a blogger at The Anxiety Wellness Queen, with a background in Psychology, Criminology and Counselling. Amanda has a passion for supporting those experiencing Anxiety after watching many friends and family members suffering with general anxiety disorders. Amanda offers one on one coaching with mothers to help them deal with anxiety during motherhood or pregnancy, so if you would like to chat with her, you will find her details below. I hope you find her post helpful for yourself or someone you know in getting the help they need in their motherhood journey. Thanks so much for sharing Amanda! x
Having a baby is often one of the most exciting yet challenging times of your life! The transformational experience that occurs physically, emotionally and psychologically can vary significantly amongst each individual creating a personal story and connection. Women are faced with numerous stressors during their pregnancies, dealing with thoughts and worries about their baby, health issues that may arise and trying to prepare and adapt to the current and potential changes that they will experience.
Did you know that up to 1 in 10 women experience depression and or anxiety during pregnancy?? Luckily these days the support and the awareness have come such a long way in regards to Mental Health. There are so many options and avenues available, people are more open to talking about it and as a result together we are reducing the stigma associated around Mental Health! Antenatal and Postnatal Anxiety and Depression can begin during the early stages of pregnancy, immediately after birth or months down the track. Up to 1 in 7 new mums experience Postnatal depression and or anxiety within the first year after birth.
Not only are these mums dealing with the changes of motherhood, which can feel overwhelming to say the least, they are then also feeling frightened, emotional and isolated.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Signs and symptoms of Postnatal Depression and Anxiety vary amongst each individual as to HOW often they feel that way and the INTENSITY of the symptoms. The symptoms include, although not restrictedto..
- Lack of Sleep (unrelated to baby)
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Feelings of guilt and Shame
- Panic Attacks (which include shortness of breath, heart palpitations etc.)
- Feelings of anger and irritability
- Fear of being alone
- Reoccurring negative thoughts
- Feeling unmotivated
- Thoughts about harming yourself or the baby
- Changes in appetite
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Constant sadness and crying
- Loss of self-confidence and self esteem
- Loss of self-concentration and memory loss ‘Brain Fog’
- Loss of interest in the things you once enjoyed and sex
- Feeling like you are unable to cope with daily tasks, chores and activities
- Constant generalized worry about the health and wellbeing of the baby
- Extreme lethargy
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
Reaching out and asking for help is one of the most difficult yet important steps to initially take. Knowing that you are not alone and that there are numerous experienced professionals that help parents during these times will essentially provide you with the courage and solace you need. These include speaking to your..
- General Practioner
- Child Health Nurse
(Or any other trusted health professional)
Ensuring you have a good support network of family and friends is also one of the biggest helps during this difficult transition. There is A LOT of pressure on mums these days to swing back into ‘pre-baby’ life after giving birth and that alone often builds up a huge amount of the pressure (whether it be in relation to mood, body image, energy levels, relationships, keeping up with household chores etc..).
Mothers groups, whether they be online or meet up groups, are also another great option when it comes to support. Not only are you all going through similar life changes, it’s also a great way to meet other like-minded people to share your experiences with.
TOOLS, TIPS AND STRATEGIES
Dealing with Postnatal depression and anxiety often brings up feelings of guilt and shame as to why these feelings are coming up and leaves you wondering how you SHOULD be feeling… The good news is both anxiety and depression are treatable! Here are a few Tools, Tips and Strategies that you can use to help you prepare or to implement during this challenging time.
- Knowledge is Power – Learning more about what is going and why provides you with better understanding of what you’re going through. This in itself really does help in the process AND treatment as it removes alot of the FEAR and ‘unknown’.
- Practice Saying Yes – Society tends to send a message that as mother’s we are super hero’s that need to do everything by ourselves (yes! To mums being amazing superwomen and a big NO to having to feel like you need to take on the world on your own) this is just a reminder that its ok to say YES, every now and then, if people offer their help in those early days or even later stages of motherhood just say YES! YES, to a home cooked meal, a hand around the house, time for a nap while someone looks after bub and yes to dropping the older kids at school. We all have good days and bad and you Mumma are at no exception! -You can’t do it all and by no means are you expected to!
- Self-Care – Making sure you put aside some much needed YOU time is SOOOO important during this time. It doesn’t have to be anything big or costly, just setting some time aside for you to recharge, regroup and become ready for whatever the day throws your way. This could consist of a nice warm bath when everyone goes to bed, putting your feet up with a nice hot tea or coffee when bub is taking a nap. There is no need to feel guilty for taking some time away, as they say you can’t pour from an empty cup!
- Realistic Expectations – Motherhood is really portrayed in a very ‘fairy-tale’ like way these days in magazines, TV and social media. We are constantly shown the ‘expected’ way to look, act, feed, feel and think. Those expectations have had such a huge negative impact on women across the globe. This is just a reminder to ensure you set realistic expectations of yourself during this time, its OK if you don’t get 35 loads of washing on today or if you don’t have time to wash your hair, its OK not to have a picture perfect looking house, its OK to have days where your in your pyjamas all day (Infact I loveeee those days!) For goodness sake, you have a lot on your plate, don’t be too hard on yourself you are doing the best you can. Listen to your body and what its telling you, it WILL give you the cues.
- Get Writing: I Know some days you don’t have time to scratch your head BUTT there is something so magical and therapeutic about physically writing things out using the old-fashioned pen and paper. So many of your thoughts, feelings and emotions are flowing right now and by keeping them all locked up in your mind is not only exhausting but tends to also leave behind a sense of ‘heaviness’. Practice getting in the habit of writing out your thoughts and feelings as you go, by doing this you will a) Remove them out of your head and b) It allows you to visually look at the thoughts and feeling on paper and address them from a bit more distance, therefore enabling you to make more rational and thought out decision.
At the end of the day It is so important it is to let you know that you ARE doing the best you can so please don’t be too hard on yourself. Being a mum is no doubt full of ups and downs, challenges and learning experiences, lots of tears and smiles and above all motherhood, is one of the hardest yet rewarding jobs in the world!
If you fit any of the above signs/symptoms and you think you need to talk to someone about postnatal depression or anxiety, please use the following contacts.
PANDA 1300 726 306
PREGNANCY BIRTH & BABY 1800 882 436
BEYOND BLUE 1300 22 4636
LIFELINE 13 11 14