At Flourishing Mothers, our aim is to fortify mums with practical tips to help promote good mental health. Up to 19% of women suffer from Post Natal Depression (PND)*. Statistically speaking, if you have 10 mums in your mothers group, then two of you could be silently suffering. An analysis of research from 12 studies and 485 women recently published** has summarised common feelings or behaviours reported by those with PND.
1. “Crushed expectations”. We women are given so many messages about “ideal” motherhood. If we aren’t having a wonderful time or don’t think we are meeting these idealised expectations, then we can feel unhappy or experience a sense of failure.
2. “Going into hiding”. If we feel doubt about our capacities, we might feel the need to maintain a façade to the outside world. Reluctant to share our feelings, we isolate ourselves physically or emotionally.
3. “Loss of sense of self”. In the underestimated change that motherhood brings, we can grieve for our old selves, while being unsure or unhappy about who we are in the present.
4. “Intense vulnerability”. We can feel anxious and dependent on others, even to the point that day to day tasks can seem difficult.
Amidst all of this, practical life concerns - money worries, relationship difficulties, lack of sleep or even increases in housework, can make these feelings seem worse and overwhelming at times.
Here are some things you can do if you are experiencing some of these feelings:
- Be a “good enough” mother, not a Stepford Wife! Be kind to yourself while you adapt to being a mum. Becoming a mum happens overnight, but adapting to the role and finding yourself amongst it takes time.
- Get practical help to restore your emotional energy– get your mum to hang out your washing, outsource what you can (online grocery shopping anyone?)
- Talk about how YOU (not just the baby) are feeling – the good and the not-so-good. Seek emotional support from family and friends - they want to be useful and they care about your wellbeing.
- Don’t be afraid to visit your GP if these feelings are too strong, persistent or disabling. Your feelings are common and there is so much help out there!
With love, from Flourishing Mothers
National Perinatal depression hotline 1300 726 306
*Source: Gavin, N. I., Gaynes, B. N., Lohr, K. N., Meltzer-Brody, S., Gartlehner, G., & Swinson, T. (2005). Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 106(5, Part 1), 1071–1083.
**Source: Mollard, K. (2014) Qualitative Meta-Synthesis and Theory of Postpartum Depression. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 35:656–663, 2014