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Emotional Health During Early Parenthood

This comes directly from beyondblue: the national depression and anxiety initiative‘s website here. Please see the website for more detail and to download a PDF booklet on emotional health during early parenthood.

Every day is so different – some days everything goes pretty smoothly and at other times it feels a bit uphill. But we’re getting there!

Learning to be a mother can take time

Having a baby is one of the biggest life-changing experiences you’ll ever have. Some women describe feeling joy, achievement, relief and strength after giving birth. For others, however, the experiences of giving birth and caring for a new baby are vastly different from what they were expecting.

I always hoped for a natural birth, but things didn’t turn out that way. The main thing was that everyone was healthy.

Women may believe that they will immediately recognise, love and know how to look after their baby. However, new mothers don’t always feel close to their baby right away. It’s quite normal to take a while to feel comfortable and confident in your new role.

When I looked at the twins, they seemed a pair of little strangers to me, but somehow, I knew we all belonged together.

What about dads/partners?

Unlike mothers, fathers/partners do not go through all the physical changes of pregnancy and giving birth, so they may not begin to adjust to parenthood until the baby is born. Becoming a father can be an important milestone in a man’s life and often marks a change in his relationship with his partner and other members of their family. Some men believe that a baby will enhance their relationship. Most, however, find that a new baby brings extra stress. In the same way that the reality of motherhood may be different from the expectation, the reality of fatherhood can be different too. Dads need to look after themselves and seek help if they experience symptoms of depression or anxiety.

You suddenly go from having everything in your life as neat and tidy to being completely out of control.

Caring for yourself in early parenthood

Caring for a baby during the first year of life is a constant and demanding job. It can involve sleepless nights, spells of the baby crying and times of not knowing what to do. It can be upsetting if your baby is unsettled or you’re having feeding problems. It can also be hard to manage if you don’t have emotional and financial support from your partner or other family members and friends. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether your feelings are ‘normal’ under these new circumstances. It’s important for you and your partner to look after yourselves and each other.

Knowing when help is needed

Many women may experience symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in the postnatal period. Bipolar disorder and puerperal psychosis can also emerge at this time. It’s very important to look after yourself and recognise if you are finding it difficult to manage from day to day. If you have been feeling sad, down, worried or anxious for a while and this is starting to affect your life, it’s time to seek help.

Photo on this post from stock.xchng photographer AD-Passion. Video by beyondblue: the national depression and anxiety initiative.

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