My Journey

From mind to paper and back again.

Parenting Highs and Lows

on February 12, 2013

Every new parent goes through the sleepless nights, the grumpy days of teething and for many, the baby blues.  The lack of sleep and adult conversation can really make you feel down, but for some new parents, mums and dads, the baby blues can go on for a little longer than the few days that is expected.  This is normally classed as post natal depression.  It comes in many forms and can kick in (generally) at any point in the first two years.  Parents who have experienced some form of depression are more likely to get it according to health professionals and for many, you can feel completely alone and cut off from the world.

There are people you can turn to for help when you realise that the constant lack of sleep, maybe a teary baby, or even just being lonely gets you down.  From your health team (who include your midwife before discharge, the health visitors, and your doctor) to family and friends, they can all help.  But you have to realise you need and want that help.  It can be something as simple as spending an afternoon at a friends for a cup of coffee (you know we can’t function without that anymore) or a family member looking after your little one for an hour while you get some sleep (it doesn’t have to be a lot of sleep, just an hour to relax can help) or even popping around to help with the cleaning (we know it gets put on a back burner).

If you don’t recognise the signs straight away, you could need extra help, be it, talking to a trained councillor or your doctor putting you on medication.  These are other options that can be put in place to help you.  It can help to have a supportive partner around you who may notice the signs before you do, or who can go with you to the doctor to explain your moods.  If you’re not sure, then try keeping a mood diary for a week (a councillor or doctor may ask you to do this anyway).  It will give you an idea of how often you feel down or low.  Make a note of time, what baby is doing and how you feel – are you just tired, do you not have the will to fulfil a task, are you upset and teary or do you want to hurt yourself/baby?  If you do at any point feel like the last one, please see your doctor straight away.  They are professionals and trained to help you.  If you notice that you have a low mood more often than a happy one, it may be time to seek advice.

Oliver is 4 months old today, and I still feel like I am living on a rollercoaster everyday.  From him being born and spending time in the NICU to coming home, trying to get things ready (because he was early not every thing was set up) to looking after a baby for the first time alone when Andrew went back to work.  I have been lucky, I have some very close friends and family who I wouldn’t have got this far without.  Even though the majority of my family are quite some distance away, they are also very supportive and I know they are just at the end of the phone if I need them.  I was doing alright until just after Christmas.  My Gran passing away shook me to the core, and then it hit.  I didn’t want to do anything, cleaning, cooking, even getting dressed seemed like a chore (although I make a point of getting dressed every morning to take Andrew to work).  I’ve never had any issues with looking after Oliver, he has always been my first priority, but other things were put on the back burner and my health visitor became worried about me.

After a few weeks of crying every day, it’s getting better.  I don’t always feel like doing house work, but the basics are done every day now and slowly I am starting to come out of the lull, thanks in part to taking Oliver swimming.  We get out of the house, get to see other people with babies and both of us get to interact with people in an appropriate age range.  We both love going and it really does make my day to see him smile when we go.  I have a busy week planned most weeks, which is good too, I don’t have time to sit in the house and mope about.  I’m lucky, it was picked up very fast, I was given support and advice from my health team and am moving forwards and through it.  Others aren’t so lucky, some people are that good at putting on a front that no one ever knows something is wrong until something major goes wrong.  Like I said, daddies can get PND too! 

The signs to look out for include:

  • A low mood or a persistent feeling of sadness
  • A loss of interest in the world around you
  • A lack of energy and feeling tired all the time.

Other things to look out for are:

  • disturbed sleep or not being able to sleep at night
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • low self confidence
  • poor appetite or an increase in appetite
  • feeling agitated or just can’t be bothered
  • feelings of guilt/self blame

Spotting the signs in someone else:

  • Frequently crying for no obvious reason
  • difficulties bonding with their baby
  • they seem to be neglecting themselves
  • seem to have lost all sense of time
  • constant worry about baby regardless of reassurance

The NHS have a very good section on Post Natal Depression and I would recommend reading it. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Postnataldepression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

2013-02-06 12.40.01

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