Many new mums find that the first months after giving birth is not the perfect, magical time they expected. They can hold back from asking for help because they’re worried they will be judged a ‘bad parent’ or even fear their baby will be taken away. This can lead some mums to spend a lot of effort trying to appear that nothing is wrong.
All women in Leeds who don’t feel right or are struggling with their emotions, can be open about this with their midwife, GP or health visitor. They will talk to you about what you’ve been experiencing and discuss support available to help you feel better and help you bond with your baby.
Watch this animation with new mums from Leeds talking about how they struggled with their emotions during pregnancy and after the birth.
Postnatal depression is a type of depression experienced after having a baby. It’s fairly common – affecting 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect dads and partners although this is less common.
Some signs of postnatal depression can include:
- feeling sad, low, tearful or guilty most of the time
- worrying a lot about your baby and their wellbeing
- difficulty bonding with your baby
- withdrawing from contact with other people
- lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- feeling irritable
- loss of self-confidence
- problems concentrating and making decisions
- changes in appetite – eating more or less
- feeling restless and lacking energy
- less interest in sex
- problems sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day
- tense muscles
- feeling panicky or experiencing panic attacks
- frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
Many women also experience anxiety after having a baby. Being responsible for a new life can feel overwhelming at times and it’s natural to worry about looking after your baby. However, if these feelings continue or are affecting your day-to-day life, talk to your health visitor or GP.
Some women experience obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which can focus on distressing thoughts and images such as harming the baby. This can be really scary, but does not mean that you will act on these thoughts. Speak to a health worker about finding the right support. It’s also possible to experience health anxiety which may focus on extreme worries that there’s something wrong with the baby and repeated health checks that don’t help to reduce the anxiety.
Understandably, some factors or situations can make it more likely for someone to experience emotional difficulties after having a baby, including:
- a difficult or traumatic birth, a premature or early birth, a stillbirth or the death of a baby
- problems getting enough sleep
- lacking support at home or from family and friends
- relationship problems
- experiencing other stresses and life events at the same time, such as bereavement or money worries.
- being a younger mum
- previous experience of depression
- feeling unsafe at home (domestic abuse)
However, it’s important to know that any woman could experience mental health difficulties in the weeks and months after giving birth.