I have been thinking about writing my experiences with PND for a while but have been too nervous.
I have come to terms with most of my mental health issues but PND is still a struggle.
My pregnancy overall was pretty good. I had morning sickness for the first 13/14 weeks and a small scare at 30 weeks but overall I loved my pregnancy.
I have always struggled with my eating and the way I look but all of these fears seemed to disappear during pregnancy. I embraced my growing body and bump. My midwife even told me that I shouldn’t worry as I was the kind of person who’s body would just ping back in the few weeks after birth. So I relaxed. I ate far too much. As a result I put on 4 stone!
And guess what! I didn’t ‘ping back’! Far from it! This definitely fuelled some of my PND. I thought I was disgusting! A failure! I couldn’t even loose the weight that my midwife had told me would be easy!
My PND took the role of being a perfectionist and extremely protective. Not what most people think. Most people assume that PND only means harming or thinking of harming your baby. Not wanting your baby at all. Or just having no bond. But mine was very different.
I was not happy with anyone holding H. I was stressed and on edge!
“Are they holding him properly?”
“Are they supporting his head?”
“Can he breath properly?”
“He’s too hot/cold!”
I just wanted to scream “GIVE ME BACK MY BABY!”
This state lasted a long time. I just did not trust anyone with H at all. Even my husband I felt I needed to supervise! I didn’t let anyone look after H until he was nearly one years old! I was just petrified something was going to happen to him or someone was going to harm him. Intentionally or not!
This still effects me a little bit now. I still get extremely anxious when I have to leave him somewhere. Even preschool sometimes. When H stays with family members it’s not the lovely break that most parents enjoy. I pretty much HATE it! Despite the fact I know he is safe and has a great time I am still very anxious and count the hours until he is home!
I was always reassured by family members, friends and healthcare professionals that my feelings of exhaustion, loneliness, sadness and even failure were all normal. The baby blues. Even months after I was reassured that the baby blues just last longer for some people. I was told by my health visitor to “Get out and about with baby.” or “Join a group.” and that it would pass.
Everyone else seemed to have it all together and handling being a new mummy.
I attended a local post natal group where I was left feeling even more inadequate every single week. H was ALWAYS crying – no screaming! I was always close to tears. I had no idea about most of the things the health visitors and midwives were talking about! How could I be so clueless? I had attended all the groups and had read all the books. Why was I such a failure?
Breastfeeding was something I really really struggled with. It actually still affects me now sometimes.
I was always 100% certain that I was going to breastfeed my baby. After all we are always told its the very best thing, so why would I even consider otherwise? I was so set on it that I didn’t even buy any bottles or formula. I had been to antenatal classes and learnt how to do it properly. Again I had read lots of books and was super confident that I would be able to do it. Boy did I get a shock!
Once I’d given birth H latched on pretty well and I was over the moon. However, this was short lived.
He was an absolute nightmare to breastfeed! I tried absolutely everything that I could! But whether it was him over hungry and getting into a state or me getting stressed that it wasn’t working in the perfect way I had envisioned, it just wasn’t working!
I was in a lot of pain, but still determined to do it!
H was diagnosed jaundice and I was told at the hospital during light treatment that he needed constant feeding to clear this quickly. I explained my difficulties breastfeeding and was recommended classes and groups that could help. Unfortunately they did not. I just ended up leaving in tears and felt even more of a failure! I ended up buying an electric pump and expressing into bottles.
I did this for 8 weeks until I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was spending hours and hours everyday on my sofa expressing then bottle feeding H. I then switched to formula.
When I looked back I thought I had failed him! Every time H was ill with a cold or sickness bug I was convinced it was because I didn’t breastfeed!
I know now that this is rubbish and I am much kinder to myself about it. But at the time I was left feeling like a complete and utter failure!
I think we all have fears as parents but they are increased ten fold when you have a mental illness. You are so scared that if you tell anyone you think you’re poorly or are struggling then social services will come and take you baby away! but this isn’t true. Talking to a therapist. Taking medication. Going to bed at 6pm because you are exhausted. Are not you failing! Theses things show you are strong. It shows mental health is not winning!
For me, I do feel that I was failed by my healthcare team. I made them aware very early on that there was history of depression and mental health issues in me and my family but this was never taken on board!
I personally feel that if they had been more ‘on the ball’ they would have spotted these signs for what they were. I wouldn’t have suffered for the years that followed or to the awful extent that I did.
Lots of love