Last week was ‘Maternal Mental Health Week’. It’s scary how many new mum’s suffer in silence about having lower mental health than usual. People always talk about this ‘Blissful New Born Stage’, but that isn’t the case for all new mum’s - whether it’s their 1st baby or their 5th.
When Emilia & I were in hospital after her birth (for treatment for both of us), I had a real bad turn during one night feed. The on call doctor was called immediately and I was to put Emilia back in her crib. Sounds dramatic, right? Physically, I was okay - well, as okay as I could be after a traumatic birth. Mentally? Turns out I wasn’t doing so well. The on call doctor explained that I was suffering severe panic attacks, caused by PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I’d only ever heard of this when talking about Soldiers whom have fought in the war… not women after giving birth! But it’s a lot more common than I realised!
I remember someone saying to my hubby that he (HE?!) should be careful as I was showing signs of Post Natal Depression… Luckily I wasn’t - I was just totally fed up of the same 4 hospital walls and wanted a comfy bed and a decent cup of tea. But for some Mum’s this isn’t the case either.
I started to feel like I had failed Emilia; that I wasn’t giving her the best start in life, for so so many reasons. I thought that, if I could just get home, I’d be able to start over and give her the best start she deserved. But as the Anxiety & PTSD hit home even more, things were a little rocky at first. My midwife visited regularly, often asking (in private) how I was coping, encouraging me to be as honest as possible and explaining how she could help.
By my 6 week post natal check, I was starting to get the hang of motherhood - but the PTSD was still lingering. My GP offered me anti-depressants & beta-blockers (treatment for depression and anxiety). I declined, after a LONG in-depth discussion with him (taking the best advice for me & my family, it’s different for everyone!). Instead, therapy was recommended.
Two years on, I still have anxiety & the PTSD can rear it’s butt-ugly head - but I am handling things so much better - thanks to the fact that I have found my ways of coping and dealing with situations, and knowing how to restore peace in my heart & mind.
New Mum’s, Old Mum’s, Mum’s-to-be… do not be scared to speak out. Do not be scared to admit that hormones are taking over. PTSD can be managed, both by yourself (like I did) or with medication or therapy. Depression is not you failing - it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Hormones. Yes, post-natal hormones are more of a bitch than the pre-natal hit! But you can get help! You can recover! You are a bad-ass mama who deserves to flaunt herself & her beautiful baby!
Please, seek help from whomever you trust when you need it most.