So it's world mental health day and in true mouthy mum fashion I thought I'd raise my own awareness by talking about the mental health you can encounter due to becoming a new parent. I thought thus fitting as around 1 in 5 women will suffer some kinf of post natal mental health problem, so lets end any stigma and raise a bit of awareness. I put this with my 'you are not alone' series because trust me... you really aren't.
Lets start this off with the most well known after pregnancy/childbirth - Post Natal Depression. Post natal depression is so common within the first year of having a baby, so if you or your partner do encounter it, please don't feel embarrassed as we as humans tend to when it comes to mental health. In fact it is so common that around 1 in 10 women get it after childbirth. You need the help and you are well with in your rights to get it. Sometimes it can be slight, but left undiagnosed it can become a lot more harmful and to be honest... scary! Symptoms of PND are - Persistent feeling of sadness/low mood, lack of interest in things, lack of energy, trouble sleeping (not as a result of the baby waking you up), difficulty bonding with your baby, withdrawing from contact/ communication with other's, problems with concentration (not like me where I have the attention span of a wet mop, I'm just dim) and the one that worries people most, myself included, frightening thoughts (including thoughts about harming your baby). Now a lot of women go undiagnosed and that's because this can gradually get worse, it really kind of seeps it's way in. It's a little like being in a relationship with a narcissist to me, because you seem fine at first and then the doubts and the sadness come in but you brush it off, or worse, others brush it off for you "oh it's nothing, just baby blues everyone gets it" or "oh you lot now, when we had kids back in our day we didn't have any of this mental health, if you were sad you just got on with it and never moaned, it's your baby!" Honestly, ignore these people or better yet just shout at them tell them to get out. There's very little in people I hate more than their inability to try to understand. But good news! There are places who can help: of course your GP, but sometimes it's not them that you want to speak to. Your health visitor will also have people for you to speak to, they are usually specially trained to spot signs, but if you feel you know yourself then please tell them.http://www.apni.org/ and http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/ are great organisations. There are also plenty of forums online, the main one I have come across is netmums and there will always be women on there who have been through similar and can give some useful contacts. People who have been through this tend to want to help others going through it in my experience. There are a range of treatments intended to help such as: cognitive behavioural therapy, talk therapy, reiki (I had reiki, I really do speak highly of it), anti depressants and also working out and healthy eating.
Post natal anxiety. This is spoken less about than PND, I don't know why. What is post natal anxiety? Just as we know how regular anxiety can appear almost out of nowhere, postnatal can seem very similar. Except in the instance of PNA you don't tend to find yourself worrying for your own well being so much as that of your child/children. I've done so many of the self diagnosis online and feel I have this but have no real diagnosis as of yet. It's an overwhelming feeling, almost convinced that harm will come to your baby, or worse, death. It's a feeling that you wont be able to control things that may effect your baby getting sick to a point you start to withdraw from normal life and Those lovely panic attacks as well, it wouldn't be anxiety with out it's inconvenient and upsetting best friend now would it. Of course these aren't all the signs of PNA, but it is always best to get seen by a GP for a correct diagnosis. Usually your health visitor will be able to spot signs, although if yours is useless and basically a distant memory since the pandemic you may not have this support. It's hard to diagnose these things yourself because you seem (or I do) to try convincing yourself that you don't suffer, you're OK, it's all 'perfectly normal'. Checking your baby breathes once a night is normal, checking your 8 month old is still breathing every 20-30 minutes through the night is not. You need rest too, every day is a big day in parent world!
Postnatal PTSD. I feel this is a very easy mental health problem to develop after a difficult birth. PTSD is post traumatic stress disorder, for those who aren't aware. This is where you go through a traumatic event, and as such in your minds attempt to survive said trauma in certain ways, but you may revisit the trauma regularly in your mind such as flashbacks so it is important to seek medical assistance from your GP if this occurs. Signs of PPTSD are: difficulty bonding with your baby (which could be partly why this ties in with PND a lot of the time), going over and over pictures of during and just after the birth, flashbacks of the birth, fear and avoidance of giving birth again after more than a few months PP (this is me, I've said I don't want anymore after that delivery), a big one is lack of interest in sex OR eye contact, I say this is a big one because although sex can be intimacy, eye contact avoidance can really make a partner feel they are no longer being appreciated or listened to which could lead to other relationship problems or breakdown, suffering PTSD or any mental health, support is important. There are a lot of signs specific to PPTSD as opposed to PTSD, you can find them and other useful information at: https://www.ptsduk.org/what-is-ptsd/post-natal-ptsd/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw2or8BRCNARIsAC_ppyYR2Gp0UEsk7BjDVhUWxWYAlRSeRXsP3IJMYo9NUKSBC4zfAohZ4mUaApRzEALw_wcB
Postpartum OCD. Again this is another kind of anxiety, but with more routine behaviours a person may feel they HAVE to perform in order to keep their baby safe, they will be as a result of upsetting/worrying thoughts concerning their babies safety. One of these for example could be "if I don't do my babies buttons all the way to the top and in this order, a button could come loose and my baby could die'. OCD is, I feel, the most annoying mental health people can suffer. I know that sounds insensitive but I mean it from personal experience and I mean annoying to the sufferer. I have my own OCD behaviours that wind me up, and no idea where they came from. So I imagine having to live a life where you are constantly having to fulfil some kind of organised behaviour in order to feel that your baby is safe. It could be annoying and exhausting along with people's opinions running in the background, or people pointing it out! Signs of PPOCD are: being worried they will cause harm to the baby through certain behaviours (such as being not clean enough or too clean), being scared to make any decisions that may result in harm coming to the baby, unwanted thoughts of dropping the baby or hurting the baby amongst many more. You can find help and more information at: https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/postpartum-ocd/
Postpartum Psychosis - This, I personally feel is the most worrying of postpartum mental health problems that can occur. What is it? As the name would indicate, this is psychosis developed after having a baby. Psychosis is seeing/hearing/believing things that aren't there, this can be extremely dangerous which is why it worries me the most. Around 1 in 1000 women develop this, which whilst it is not as common as other mental illnesses, it is still not exactly the lowest of numbers. Signs of PPP are - hearing things that aren't there, seeing things that aren't there, having manic episodes, being severely depressed/anxious, mood swings, being confused and racing thoughts amongst many, many others. But do not feed into the stigma, if you feel yourself developing any of these symptoms please seek medical help immediately. There is NO shame in being so strong you can admit you may need help. And most women who seek help make a full recovery in their mental health. For more information please see: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/mental-wellbeing/specific-mental-health-conditions/postpartum-psychosis?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIj92P6u697AIVz9_tCh3BvQgDEAAYAiAAEgJgXvD_BwE
There's nothing embarrassing about any of this! We all need a little help sometimes. I know it's easy to say "don't be afraid to reach out", but if you want an impartial person who doesn't know you or anything feel free to leave a comment or email me off the contact page. This is such an unspoken about subject sometimes, and people tend to feel bad about being affected in these ways. If anyone makes comments about them 'not having any of this' in their day or 'people just got on with it' or say it's weak or anything to admit you had any problems, do NOT let that sink in. YOU are brave, you are strong, get the help you may need or help anyone who you think may need it and YOU may just save a life.
I hope this helped at least one person. And as always stay safe and don't be a stranger.
💙 Much Love💖
Please see sites to helpful information on these:
PND:https://pandasfoundation.org.uk https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/mental-wellbeing/specific-mental-health-conditions/postnatal-depression-pnd PNA: https://www.ppdil.org/2015/04/postpartum-anxiety-or-normal-new-mom-fears/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw2or8BRCNARIsAC_ppyYnkb-Qlk6Yemw5L742s2HFk_pjtiRTrxG7TlIVFQNwODxgD3wPkpQaAsEyEALw_wcB Postpartum OCD: https://www.postpartumdepression.org/postpartum-depression/types/ocd/ Pp Psychosis: https://mothersformothers.co.uk/about-us/