There’s such incredible support offered to mums who suffer from mental health. From therapy, GPs, maternal health nurses, naturopathy, and even this amazing online community where mums bravely continue to share their stories helping other mums feel less isolated and alone.
But why isn’t there more done to prevent it? Why is it only once we ourselves identify that how we’re feeling is not normal, that help is available?
With my first born, I was never asked how I felt. I was never asked if I was lonely. I was never asked if I felt overwhelmed. I was never asked if I knew was PND was. I was never asked if I was comfortable with breastfeeding. I was never asked if I was sleeping well. I was never asked if I knew how to be a mum. I was never asked if I wanted to hold him to allow me to connect with him.
Every question I was asked was about the baby.
Is the baby moving well? Is the baby breastfeeding? Is the baby sleeping well? Is the baby getting what they need? Don’t give the baby a dummy. Don’t hold him too much. Don’t let him sleep in your bed.
Personally, I know that if I was given the same attention that my baby was, I would not have resented him. I would not have disliked him. I would not have been traumatised. I would not have needed therapy to treat my PND and anxiety. Because I would have had the tools to identify my triggers and take control of my mental health.
My anxiety was there long before I had my first son. I just didn’t know it. When we son was almost two, I saw a therapist to help me through the loss of my mum. Within an hour, I was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD and mild PND. My primary triggers back then were isolation, not being in control, and ill health. So the fact that I felt restricted by my son in those early days, I wasn’t able to properly manage those triggers, and so my mental health had declined rapidly without me even realising. I thought everyone felt the way I did. The darkness. The sadness. The overwhelming sense of confusion and worry.
If only someone with experience in post-natal depression and anxiety asked how I was.
With my second baby, after years of therapy, naturopathy and support from my GP, and finally in control of my mental health, I knew what to do. I knew that I wanted an elective c section. I knew that I didn’t want to breastfeed. I knew that I wanted to give him a dummy. I knew that I wanted skin to skin time which I wasn’t allowed with my first. I knew I wanted a healthy gut and in turn a healthy mind. I knew I wanted to talk about how I felt. I knew I wanted to be in control.
My experience the second time around was incredible. I loved being pregnant. I loved my baby. I loved being a mum. I wasn’t confused by how I felt. I wasn’t suffering in silence.
It breaks my heart that mums are expected to ‘just know’ what to do. It breaks my heart that mums slowly spiral into the darkness that is PND and anxiety. It breaks my heart that help isn’t offered sooner, before mental health takes over their world.
It breaks my heart that PND and anxiety are hidden under the ‘post baby blues’ umbrella.
Those early days where mums are confused between baby blues and PND are so crucial to their mental health. That’s when help is needed. That’s when mums need the most support. That’s when mums need to be given the tools to take back control of their health.
And yet, how many mums are asked with genuine intent to help them filter through those thoughts and feelings, how they feel? From what I’ve heard and read, not many at all.
If there’s one thing I love and admire about this online community, it’s that mums are helping each other. We are fighting against PND and anxiety one story at a time. Those of us who’ve been there and have come out the other side, are proof that there is a way out.
But why, WHY, isn’t there more done to prevent it?!
I know I’m only one voice. Only one example. Only one mum sharing her thoughts on a social platform. But if I can get my story out there, maybe more WILL be done. Maybe the system can be looked at. Maybe there’ll be changes made.
Or at the very least, maybe if stories like mine were shared and made available to expectant mums, they’ll have the knowledge and in turn the power, to ask for help before motherhood takes control of their mental health.
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