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Post Natal Depression - A Health Stop

Post-Natal Depression is experienced by 1 in 7 women every year [1] and although it is commonly thought to last for one year by the medical profession, I know many women who would say the depression lasts much longer than a year after the birth of the child.

A mother who is not feeling ‘in love’ with her infant often feels pressure to be ‘in love’ with her baby and she can begin to feel depressed due to feeling inadequate or negligent.

There are enormous amounts of ideals about how a mother should be. There are even categories that mothers try to fit into, such as ‘earth mother’, ‘tiger mother’, ‘laid-back mother’, ‘helicopter mother’ . . . the list is extensive. Even parenting support groups that tell us to trust our instincts place pressure on us to indeed know our instincts in the first place!

When suffering from post-natal depression it is key to seek medical treatment. The support of the chemical rebalancing of anti-depressants can be indeed beneficial, and medical advice should be sought. However, this article looks at how we as the post-natal depression client can actively contribute to improving our situation in addition to the medical support.

Whilst pregnant we are afforded an amazing grace – the connection we have physically with the growing baby brings us into a very sacred place within us.

For some this will cause many physical reactions that don't feel that pleasant – like sickness – but for others pregnancy is a really beautiful time of feeling a stillness within. When our babies are born this simple connection aided by the baby is no longer felt so strongly. In that loss of steadiness and grace we leave a large gap that is then filled with the plethora of ideals and beliefs of which just a few were mentioned earlier.

Another factor in post-natal depression is the massive lifestyle change that having a child places on the woman. The ways she identified herself prior to being a mother are lost when she finds herself in this new role.

The lost sense of self and good esteem could be a result of realising how fickle it is to live from role to role and not enjoy simply being yourself. Is it possible that the role we left is ONLY more attractive because we were more competent at it and knew all the rules of how to play this role? Whereas the role of motherhood is new and unfamiliar, bringing up feelings of insecurity, being unsure of ourselves, or incompetency. Perhaps the depression is actually an opportunity to feel the falseness of playing a role and how little we love ourselves when we do. I know when my daughter was born I could only love her as much as I loved myself and I found that very depressing as it was very exposing of how little, in fact, I loved myself at that time.

Could the birth of your child and your feelings of loss, sadness, or depression actually be a gift?

A chance to:

  • Take life slower, or at a new pace
  • Invest in connecting to yourself
  • Rest when you’re tired
  • Take time to feel how you feel
  • Ask for support
  • Reassess your values

A great gift is there in front of you, your tiny baby teacher! Instead of trying to connect with them by attuning and doing lots of activities with them, just feel them – hold them to your heart and feel them. When they sleep (they will eventually!), just watch them; observe the ease and stillness they sleep with. Simply observing this will help you to reconnect to the essence that we also were born with. Your baby just needs you to be You. You are amazing.

When suffering Post-Natal Depression it is an important time to rest and get medical and psychological support, but from my experience it is a great opportunity to ditch the role-playing and start the loving journey back to your essence via self-love and self-nurturing.


  • [1]

    http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/03March/Pages/Postnatal-depression-hits-one-in-seven-women.aspx

Filed under

DepressionSelf-worthSelf-lovePregnancyMotherhoodBirth

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    By Vanessa McHardy, MA Integrative Child Psychotherapist

    Vanessa is involved in psychotherapy and education, she loves to help young people and adults to have an understanding of how they learn and how they can express all of themselves in all areas of their lives. True learning is at the heart of Vanessa’s life in all ways.

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    Photography: Clayton Lloyd