Emotional Wellbeing

“What price we pay for the glory of motherhood” 

Isadora Duncan

Motherhood is amazing, but for many of us, it is also the most challenging role we will ever face.  And some days it just feels like it’s a job we can’t do.  Getting out and about doing some of the activities listed on this website can be a great help, but it’s important to accept that sometimes you may need more than a cup of tea at a playgroup.

There is a huge amount of help and friendship in and around Tooting, whether you are having a slightly blue day, or whether you think you may be suffering from post natal depression.  Don’t be afraid to reach out – looking after yourself is the first step to being able to look after your little one.

What You Might Be Feeling

Baby Blues To a certain extent, all mothers suffer this. Particularly in the early days, you may be very sleep deprived (from a long drawn out labour), hormones are in turmoil and you may have had a traumatic experience around the birth.  Even after those early days, when the hormones have settled, the monotony of being at home with a small demanding human can take its toll on our ability to keep smiling.  This is completely normal and the feeling should lift within a week or so.  This is the time to lean on family and friends to help out, to get out and about and maybe try and change your  routine to liven things up.  Remember you can’t do everything, and it’s OK to have some days when you don’t feel on top of things.

If the feeling doesn’t shift after a month though, it is worth talking to your doctor or health visitor about post natal depression.

Post Natal Depression

Up to 10% of mothers suffer from post natal depression (and indeed there are recorded cases of men also suffering from PND).  It is often diagnosed in retrospect, a long way down the line as mums can feel ashamed and hesitant to acknowledge they may be feeling more than ‘normal’ blues.  It often occurs 2-8 weeks after the birth but can appear up to a year after the birth.  You may feel increasingly despondent and unable to look after yourself and your baby.  Symptoms include

  • loss of interest in the baby
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • not being able to stop crying
  • feelings of not being able to cope
  • not being able to enjoy anything
  • memory loss or being unable to concentrate
  • excessive anxiety about the baby

Other signs of postnatal depression may also include:

  • panic attacks
  • sleeplessness
  • extreme tiredness
  • aches and pains
  • feeling generally unwell
  • anxiety
  • loss of appetite

If you’re feeling this, don’t struggle alone. It is an illness and you need help just as you would if you had flu, or a broken leg.  Speak to your doctor as soon as you can and they can help you identify the most appropriate help, be it medication or counseling or a combination of both. Treatment is often fast and effective and there is a lot of local support – see below for more resources.

Postnatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD may arise from a particularly traumatic birth, or from another serious incident such as a fear of your baby dying or a life-threatening situation.  The symptoms of PTSD (which can be seen here) may be seen alone or in combination with post natal depression.  It is extremely important to talk to your midwife, doctor or health visitor about how you are feeling. Again, there is lots of support available through the NHS and through the community.

 

Resources

The NHS is a fantastic first port of call, and do not be afraid to reach out to your GP.  In addition there are many resources locally that may also be of help.

PANDAS

PANDAS Foundation offers pre and post natal depression advice and support.  They meet regularly in the Gorringe Park Pub (basement cinema room) and will allow you to spend time with people who share and understand your experiences. It’s an opportunity for you make friends and talk about your deepest concerns and know that they will be met with acceptance and understanding. For more details see their website or contact the group leader Helen Joyce on support.groups@pandsfoundation.org.uk

Cedar House

Having suffered from post-natal depression herself, Liz Wise created a website – postnataldepression.com – to provide information and support for anyone with an interest in postnatal depression. She hopes the site will give hope to those experiencing postnatal depression, those supporting anyone going through it and and provide general information about the illness.

Liz runs the Cedar House Support Group which holds sessions each term in Clapham, welcoming mums from around SW London. Contact Liz directly for more information – she is very approachable! 

Email: lwise@talktalk.net | Mobile: 07773 283 556

Post-Natal Birth Debriefing

A traumatic birth experience can be helped through a birth debriefing, allowing you to explore your feelings about the process and how it is affecting how your are currently feeling about motherhood and your baby.  These may be offered through the hospital you gave birth at – contact the head of midwifery for more details, or privately, for example with Doctor and Daughter.

Doulas

A doula ‘mothers the mother’ and many offer post birth packages providing emotional and general support in the home. If you are feeling alone and overwhelmed, a doula could provide a friendly face and a practical pair of hands to get you through a tricky period.  Local doulas can be found by asking locally for a recommendation (eg on the Tooting Parents facebook group), or Sophie at Nurturing Birth is very good start point to put you in touch with local practitioners.

Motherless Mothers

If you’ve lost your own mother, becoming a mother yourself can bring your grief back to the surface.  Meeting up with other new mums (and fathers) in the same boat can really help.  A local mum and doula, Antonia Godber, runs a support group,  Motherless Mothers; they meet every two months or so for an informal chat over drinks at the Gorringe Park pub and share and receive coping strategies, provide comfort and companionship.  They also have a very supportive Whatsapp group which keeps everyone connected in between meet ups.  For more information contact Antonia on 07908666204 / 02086725241 / antonianct@gmail.com