Having a baby can make things a little wobbly. No, not that kind of wobbly! We’ll save our body positivity blog for another day. I’m talking about mentally wobbly. You know, feelings, thoughts, emotions. A few more tears than normal. Temper a little shorter. Extra worries. Moody. Tired … oh, so tired!
It’s not unexpected right! Your life is a tiny bit different to usual. There’s a new housemate that’s moved into your spare room and they are seriously demanding. Thankfully, also incredibly cute. So most of the time, those tricky feelings (or ‘baby blues’ as they are sometimes called) will generally disappear or settle within a few days. It’s a bit to do with hormones, exhaustion and just generally settling into the new routine of parenthood. Totally normal.
And dads … we haven’t forgotten you! It’s not just mum that is adjusting to this whole new world. You are totally in this story too! Late nights, broken sleep, feelings of confusion as you try to navigate just what your roll is in the new family dynamic and how you can help.
It’s ok to not be ok.
You’re not a failure if you’re not be coping with every new situation.
It’s totally normal to feel helpless at times.
As a Melbourne newborn photographer, I meet a LOT of new parents. And trust me, we’ve all been there. Every new parent … or even those of you who have done it all before. It’s so important to be kind to yourself and ask for help if you need it. Jessica down the road is desperate to make you her casserole and Grandma is busting to be invited over again to cuddle bub on the couch for 3 hours. So try and say yes when people offer you help. Or (gasp!) … you could even ASK someone to give you a hand. Yes …there’s absolutely no need to go it alone! Particularly on the days when things are just feeling way too hard.
In those first few days after birth, the baby blues are not uncommon at all.
But what if it goes on longer?
Days turn into weeks and you’re still not feeling great?
It’s important to stay connected to your thinking and feelings as time goes on and run a little mental health check now and then.
Things still feeling a bit overwhelming a few weeks after bub is born? Totally normal? Most likely, yes. But if things are getting worse or not improving, it’s worth making an appointment with your GP who can talk you through some indicators.
Persistent worry or fear that is maybe a little more irrational than usual?
Intense mood swings?
Constantly sad, low or crying for no reason?
Changes in appetite, sleep, interests and personality?
These are just a few indicators of postnatal (or antenatal – so while you’re pregnant) anxiety and depression.
A significant change in your mental health during pregnancy and early parenthood is super common, so if things are feeling a little different for you over a longer period of time, you are absolutely NOT ALONE! In fact, up to 1 in 10 women experience antenatal depression and as high as 1 in 7 are affected with postnatal depression (after bub arrives). The anxiety numbers are similar too and of course, dads are not immune either.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your mental health!
There are so many wonderful services and treatments that are available.
First stop, PANDA Australia (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) have a national helpline you can call for a chat – 1300 726 306 or try their website panda.org.au for resources and ideas.
Of course, your GP is an important person to visit and they can recommend a whole range of other places and treatments to get you back on track ASAP.
Having a baby is a BIG DEAL! Oh boy, there’s so much to manage. But taking care of yourself shouldn’t fall to the bottom of the list. And don’t be embarrassed or afraid. It’s real, it’s totally ok and there’s plenty of help out there. You’ve got this! <3
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