If you’re pregnant or suffering from depression, I’ve written a blogpost all about Antenatal Depression which I wrote whilst I was still pregnant. Leading on from that post, I thought I would write about depression and having the baby blues that can happen after pregnancy
It’s been three and a half months since my son was born. I feel like I’m at a point where I can talk about the mental challenges that I faced at the beginning as well as what I face day to day. I personally don’t like having to put a label on things. As I’ve mentioned before, I hate the word ‘depression’ or ‘baby blues’. Regardless, it can be relatively common. It’s not something that’s easy to admit. I kept a lot of my feelings to myself because I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t fit to be a mum or incapable of looking after Tyler. Especially having Tyler young, I feel that I’m more prone to people looking down at my lack of experience. If I told people how I feel, I felt like I would get the silent ‘I told you so’s’. It’s so easy to fall into depression or have baby blues, especially if it’s the first baby.
The Early Days
The lifestyle change, the lack of experience, the lack of sleep, the change of body and the challenges of breastfeeding are just some (yeah I realised I listed quite a lot of things lol) of the things that really made me feel low. In the early days, I felt like I was barely getting through each day. It was genuinely such a struggle. Breastfeeding was the main factor for me feeling so crap a lot of the time during the early days. Tyler was constantly on the boob, round the clock. No joke, it was a 24 hour job. People don’t realise how tiring breastfeeding is. It felt like Tyler was sucking the soul out of me. Saying that, I’m glad I breastfed for the time I did as he got to reap the rewards you get when you breastfed. But that’s a whole different post – which I will write!
I barely ate, and when I was eating; a lot of the time it was crap food. I survived on two Go Ahead bars, a dinner and a few shitty snacks for quite some time. And for anyone who breastfeeds or knows anything about breastfeeding, the eating habits that I acquired weren’t good for both myself and Tyler. I barely showered (unhygienic or?) or peed (both pretty normal considering circumstances in my opinion). I was an acceptable mess. Looking back, everything was a blur. My day consisted of sleep, breastfeed, sleep, eat, breastfeed, sleep, repeat. I think I was slowly going downhill. I was unhappy. I felt like everything I was doing was completely wrong. I felt like I wasn’t completely bonding with Tyler. All the books were saying ‘You’ll start to get to know your baby’ and to be honest, I had no idea what that meant at the time. How will I know if he’s hungry? Or tired? It definitely was a horrible feeling. You can read so many books during pregnancy and still feel completely lost when your baby arrives. Somehow all the ‘studying’ you do when you’re pregnant, flies completely over your head when your baby is right in front of you. The most important thing that I’ve learnt during the early days, is that regardless of all the tears and mistakes; I’m doing well. And that little bit of self motivation can make your day a whole lot more bearable.
It’s Okay Not To Bond With Your Baby Straight Away
The reality of it all is that not every woman is going to bond with their baby right away. There’s a difference between having ‘love at first sight’ and bonding. It is much easier to love your baby than it is to bond. Reading that statement, you may be thinking; “Doesn’t loving your baby and bonding with your baby go hand in hand?” And honestly sometimes that isn’t the case. With Tyler, I love him unconditionally but I was finding it so hard to bond with him at the beginning. I didn’t know what he wanted and when he wanted it. It’s hard when the only way your baby can communicate with you is through crying. Especially after going through labour, the exhaustion alongside other things can really affect how you bond with your baby. Saying all of this, I’m at a point where I’ve got an amazing bond with my son. I understand his different cries and I’ve grown to understand him as a little human. It can be so terrifying when you first start off because you’re just so lost. That feeling of being lost hasn’t really gone away (and to some extent, I don’t think it ever really does). I still generally feel quite flustered all the time but you learn to enjoy all the experiences that you encounter. I mean, they’re only a baby once!
90% of the time, I still feel completely lost. I know for a fact that, that feeling will never truly go away. Every day is definitely a battle in one way or another but the only difference is that now, I’m starting to enjoy the journey of motherhood. It’s definitely a lot easier than it was before. Believe it or not, you do learn the hang of things. Moreover, it helps that he has started to develop his personality and become his own little person – which honestly is one of the most beautiful things to witness. That doesn’t mean to say that nowadays I don’t breakdown here and there. Because I most definitely do. Tbh I cry a lot. But it’s okay. Everything you go through as a first time mother, from the emotions to the daily trials and challenges; is all normal and okay. Anyways, I feel I’m at a point where I can give some tips which could (hopefully) help with dealing with the overwhelming emotions of motherhood.
Tips to dealing with baby blues & PND:
- One day at a time – Having a baby is a very overwhelming change. Like every kind of change, it can take a while to adapt to. More likely, you’re not going to get the gist of it very quickly. And anyone that does, well.. good for you. As cliche as it sounds, taking it one day at a time or even taking it one hour at a time can make your whole day a little bit more bearable. Especially with the physical traumas of birth, it can definitely make you feel like crap. Not being able to do simply everyday task such as peeing or taking a shower can really take a toll on you emotionally. It does take time to heal (yes, another cliche).
- It’s okay to cry – Never let anyone ever tell you that the thing you’re crying about, is a stupid thing to cry about. We all experience things differently. If crying it out makes you feel better, do it. A good cry can definitely make me feel better. Keeping things in can have a very negative effect. No one should ever feel like they should withhold their emotions.
- Talk – Continuing from my last point of not withholding your emotions; talking is another way of dealing with it all. And yes, I know I know…ANOTHER cliche and a pretty obvious tip. BUT, it honestly does help. I know that from experience, issues such as my body changes and the challenges of breastfeeding really took a toll on me emotionally. I felt like what was the point of speaking about it when I’m not really surrounded with people that understand? But regardless of whether people understood, they were always wanting to help in any way they can. And lending an ear and hearing words of encouragement can definitely make the adapting a whole lot easier.
- Support – Personally, I think this is the most important thing to have especially during the early days. This doesn’t necessarily mean from a partner, but just from people around you in general. Being surrounded by supportive and loving people is essential. It’s needed in everyday life. I would say that it’s definitely the support I had from my boyfriend, friends and family that really kept me afloat. Your number one priority is taking care of your newborn. So having people around you caring for your wellbeing can really take the edge off the emotional struggles that you may go through.
- Take a break – This is essential. You need to take time out for yourself to look after yourself. I’m definitely a firm believer that you need to look after yourself in order to look after your baby. Your mental health is SO important. I can’t stress this enough. Especially when you’re responsible for another human being. Looking after yourself doesn’t need to be done independently. Simple things like giving the little one to someone else for a few hours so that you can relax or getting help around the house can really make a difference.
Going through depression or getting the baby blues is 100% understandable but it doesn’t have to be ongoing. I have so many off days and I have the most dramatic breakdowns that I question my capabilities but I’ve definitely learnt to take care of myself. Being a mother is hard. SO hard. I don’t know it all and I don’t pretend to but I’m definitely learning as I go along. My tips are SO basic but they really have helped me so I hope they help you in some way, regardless if you’re pregnant/with or without children. Even though it may seem like it, you’re not alone and it does get better.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post!