Being a new parent or carer, the focus is on survival.
Survival for you and survival for baby.
There are lots of things that you may plan on doing and experiences that you want to create
with your new baby, but in those early days the focus should be on forming a bond and
making sure you are both feeling healthy and happy. All of the other stuff can come a bit
later on when you have found a routine and you feel a little more confident in what you are
doing. There is absolutely no need to rush about thinking that you have to do everything
and be everywhere. It is perfectly fine to say no! If others want to see you and also meet
baby, but you aren’t feeling up to it or you barely slept the night before, then saying no is
absolutely acceptable and is your right.
Those first few weeks with a new baby in the house can be a very stressful time. Some
babies are super chilled out and will sleep lots, other babies may have day and night
completely confused and have you up at all hours, and some babies may be struggling with
health conditions that you still need to fully get to grips with. Even the most chilled out baby
will still have a profound impact on your life and your normal routines. It is absolutely okay,
and pretty normal, to feel ‘off balance’ as you find your feet.
Even if this is not your first baby and you feel like you know all the things you need to be
doing, there can still be challenges, like how do you ensure that any older siblings are able
to bond with baby and not be jealous or resentful of them? How do you juggle the school
run with finding a routine with baby that works for the whole family? As with most things
there is now single right or wrong way that you can approach these situations but there are
things that you can do to try and prepare.
How you cope and how you feel after each new addition to the family can be completely
different. Those feelings can also be out of your control and can creep up on you or come
like a bolt out of the blue. The movies paint a very romantic picture of what becoming a
mother is like, they show us instant unbreakable loving bonds between mother and child
but it doesn’t always happen in that way. In fact, there are many women who struggle to
develop a bond with their child in the early days, most of the time that bond will form but at
a slower rate than we may have been led to believe. But there are also the times when
other factors need to be considered and when more formal help might be needed.
What is Postnatal Depression?
Postnatal depression can creep up on you or it can hit you all at once like a ton of bricks, no
two people will experience postnatal depression in exactly the same way. It can be
completely debilitating, but it can also be mis-diagnosed and completely missed.
– Feeling sad or tearful a lot of the time
– Having mood swings or feeling irritable – particularly in response to your partner or
– Lack of interest in the things around you
– Wanting to hide away from social interaction
– Lack of energy and problems sleeping
– Severe change in eating pattern
– Lots of negative thoughts towards yourself, especially your ability to be a good
– Feeling anxious much of the time
– Trouble bonding with your baby
This is not an exhaustive list and those suffering with postnatal depression may suffer with
some or all of these symptoms, or something completely different. Postnatal depression is
very different to the ‘baby blues’ which many women feel in the first few days of
motherhood but which will usually abate and disappear quickly.
When to seek help.
Your midwife, health visitor and GP can all be a source of help if you are struggling with or
think someone that you know may be struggling with, postnatal depression. The sooner that
help is at hand and support is put in place the better for everyone involved. Having a strong
support network around you is key to recovery, people that you can talk to and get advice
from, others who can help you in practical ways around the house or with baby, and of
course those who can provide you with love and care will all be needed.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or you are struggling in any other ways
then speak up and ask for help. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, you are not
letting anyone down, you are not failing as a mother, and you are not the only person to
have felt this way. Postnatal depression is estimated to effect 1 in every 10 women that give
With the right help and support you can recover and go on to form a healthy and happy
bond with your baby. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and if you feel you are not
being taken seriously or you are not getting the help you need then please do keep pushing.