Posted in Comment

On being fashionably late…

“The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.”

Look out the saints are comin’ through
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.
*       

With this in mind, and only a couple of days (fashionably) late, I thought it would be good to talk about ‘baby blues’.

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No… Not that kind of baby blues.

I was thinking more this kind…

 baby-blues-sepia

“The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.” The Mayo Clinic

Research tells us that over half of new mothers experience ‘baby blues’. It usually starts in the week after baby’s birth and stops by the time baby is a couple of weeks old. It’s very normal. Your hormones are adjusting to not being pregnant. But on top of that, many new mums, particularly first-timers, place huge expectations on themselves: to be a total natural; to bond immediately with their baby; to be consumed with unconditional love; to feel overjoyed; to cope.

This sky, too, is folding under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.
*       

My only advice is – be kind to yourself. Give yourself a hefty dollop of love and understanding. Allow yourself to feel however you are feeling. There is no right and wrong way to be at this time.

Well-meaning family and friends may tell you how they got through, but it’s up to you – you and your partner – to find your own way.

yoga-in-the-sunrise

Hyperbole And A Half by Allie Brosh.

Now, to get up close and personal…

I was thirty two when I had my first baby. I had quite a lengthy and difficult birth (23 hours ending up in an epidural, ventouse and forceps, and a double episiotomy.) But I was still on cloud nine until Day 4 – our first day at home. During the night my milk had come through and I woke with breasts the size and weight of watermelons, burning to the touch. My husband went to work and my mum wasn’t due to visit for a couple of days. My baby and I were alone…

Suddenly my baby wouldn’t/couldn’t latch on properly and milk was gushing out like a fountain, seeping through my PJs, soaking the bed sheets, spurting into my baby’s eyes.

I couldn’t sit down without wincing and the only thing that eased my discomfort was a child’s Mickey Mouse rubber ring that my next door neighbour lent me. When the midwife arrived she told me off for sitting on the rubber ring because it would give me piles which I already had. When she asked how it was all going I didn’t tell her how I was feeling. Instead I said I was coping and the baby was feeding well and everything was fine.

As soon as she left I burst into tears.

When my husband came home at tea time I was still wearing my stiff and stinky PJs, I’d not eaten anything all day and my baby was fractious due to my uncontrollable milk supply. Thank goodness I had a supportive partner who took over for an hour, rocked the baby to sleep, ran me a bath, made me a cup of tea and a sandwich, changed the bed sheets and allowed me to feel sane again.

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‘Baby blues’, although worrying and distressing, is not the same as postnatal depression.

With postnatal depression the low mood, the weepiness, the numbness, the feeling that you are not coping, the fear that you are not bonding with your baby, does not go away. It lasts for weeks or months. Depression can vary from mild to severe and it can affect women in different ways. You may find it difficult to look after yourself and your baby if you have severe depression.

The most helpful thing of all is to talk. Talk to your partner, your parents, your siblings, your friends. Talk to your health professionals – your midwife, your health visitor or your doctor – about how you are feeling. No one needs to suffer alone. 

Baby blues symptoms

Signs and symptoms of baby blues which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born.

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Postpartum depression symptoms

Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth.

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
    Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum psychosis

With postpartum psychosis — a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe.

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviours and requires immediate treatment.

(info from the mayoclinic.org website)

Try to get some exercise every day – keeping active will release those feel-good endorphins.

Try to eat well even if you don’t have much appetite.

Try to get as much sleep as you can. Sleep is curative. When the baby naps take a nap yourself. The washing, cleaning, cooking can wait. If you look after yourself then looking after others will be easier and your new and multitudinous responsibilities won’t feel so overwhelming.

And try not to feel guilty – about anything!

The carpet, too, is moving under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.

*

Some useful websites: 

The NCT is a great organisation for pregnant and new mums. They say “We’re here to support parents. We give them accurate, impartial information so that they can decide what’s best for their family, and we introduce them to a network of local parents to gain practical and emotional support.” The NCT helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 03003300700. 

Check out their #BeyondBabyBlues campaign, the Early Days groups and what NCT activities are happening nearby.

PANDAS : Helpline 0843 2898401. Provides telephone support, online information and local support groups for pregnancy depression and postnatal depression.

APNI (Association for Postnatal Illness) Helpline: 0207 386 0868. Provides telephone support and online information on postnatal depression.

MIND: Helpline 0300 123 3393. Mental health charity providing information, support, local groups and an online chatroom

NHS Choices has information on ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression.

#PNDHour is an online peer support group that runs every Wednesday at 8pm via the Twitter account @PNDandMe. It’s run by a mum called Rosey who also blogs about her own experiences with antenatal and postnatal depression at PND and me.

Strike another match, go start a new
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.

*

Lyrics from It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, by Bob Dylan

A few more interesting links:

http://www.ymca.org.uk/i-am-whole

iamwhole

 

http://www.dearlittledaisy.com/iamwhole/

http://staymarriedblog.com/my-goal-is-to-not-die-postpartum-depression-and-our-marriage/

And remember…

Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms — and enjoy your baby.

If you, or anyone close to you, has suffered with Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Psychosis we would love to hear your story.

If you have any comments or suggestions for those who are going through either the Baby Blues, or more serious forms of depression, please feel free to share.

And to come full circle…

All new mum’s will find that, however precisely you’ve planned your morning, however military-like your organisational skills were pre-baby, however early you’ve got yourself and the baby up, washed, dressed in relatively co-ordinating outfits including a matching pair of foot-coverings, something unexpected can/will occur, like a sudden bout of explosive poo which leaks out from all perimeters of a nappy, or an episode of exorcist-style vomiting after the happy consumption of that first bowl of spinach and potato mush. It is therefore good – no, imperative – for your own sense of well-being, that you learn the art of being fashionably late.

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Author:

Writer, mother, liver, lover, sister, friend, round the bend

5 thoughts on “On being fashionably late…

  1. Lovely, it’s brought it all back to me even though my children are 14 and 15. It is so incredibly hard to relax into being a mum. Great advice and wisdom xxxx

    Like

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