Thinking back to the first few days and weeks after having your baby, how did you feel. Ecstatic, overjoyed, overflowing with happiness like a true earth mother? Although no doubt we all had moments like this when we could count our little bundle’s eyelashes and feel at peace, the time after welcoming a new baby into your life can often be very different to how we expected. Many of us can feel very low, depressed and anxious. In turn this can lead to feelings of guilt that we’re not having the right reaction to motherhood, which only exacerbates the problem.
Having a baby can create so many dramatic changes to our lifestyle and our relationships that it’s no wonder it’s a really hard time for many people. Most of us are lucky enough that this can be the most disruptive event in our lives and while it’s lovely, it really does change everything. The day before your baby was born you could eat, sleep, bathe, go out whenever you wanted. Now you have to inform someone of your whereabouts because a small human is constantly dependent on you and they have to be handed over in order for you to do anything on your own. With this loss of freedom it’s not surprising that many of us feel low and as though we can’t cope. During this time as many as 13% of women worldwide this can receive a diagnosis of mental health disorders such as postnatal depression, anxiety or PTSD.
It’s understandable to feel that initially many of the changes after birth are negative and the more positive changes don’t come until later. By that I mean that a few years down the line you may feel that you have become a stronger, more independent person through parenting and having to really reflect and know your own mind. But initially, while of course we gain the perfect baby that we love, most of the other changes are losses and not gains, unless you count more opportunities to sing nursery rhymes as a gain.
So, it’s ok not to be ok after having your baby. It’s ok to grieve for your old life that you didn’t really know you were about to lose. It’s ok to wear your pjs all day. It’s ok not to want to go to baby groups and meet other mums. It’s ok to change and be a different person and it’s ok to not want to and to do everything in your power to remain who you were. It's ok to need more support and to ask for it. It’s ok to work and it’s ok to not. It’s ok to cry and feel angry. It’s ok to resent your baby for keeping you awake and resent their father for sleeping and resent everyone who still has the freedom that you didn’t realise you were taking for granted. Although it might not feel like it yet, you will gain far more in the long run than you will lose.
Written by Mary Reay for Yummikeys