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Thursday, 23 November 2017

PND - A letter to myself

Date: 11th March 2017

Dear Pregnant-Me,

People will tell you that having a baby is hard work, that you'll never get any more sleep and that your nights of going out are over.

People will breeze over the labour, they will tell you that you'll cry on Day 3 and it's normal and that breastfeeding is best.

People will tell you that your body will be back to normal by 6 weeks postpartum and that you will be able to return to normal life at this stage.

You're about to have a baby in just over a week and you're excited.
You're about to have your entire world turned upside down but you can't wait; everyone else does it - right?
You've been handed that "Beyond Blue" leaflet about Postnatal Depression, but you haven't given it another thought because you have wanted this baby more than anything and it's finally happening!

You will definitely not get Postnatal Depression.


Date: 23rd November 2017

Dear Postpartum-Me,

I know you don't know what is happening to your mind and body, but it will be OK.
I know you can't think straight; that things are not happening like everyone has always lead you to believe, but it will be OK.

Just because women go through pregnancy and childbirth every day, doesn't mean that it's easy or that we should normalise it. What women put their bodies and minds through during this time is immense, and they should be both applauded and supported every step of the way. They are creating and growing LIFE inside of them, pushing their bodies to the brink as they bring that life into the outside world...and that's only the beginning of the sacrifices they make to put the needs of the baby first. Every pregnancy is different, every delivery different, every baby different - and the effects of each on the new mother have different impacts on both her mind and body.

Nobody tells you.

They don't tell you that you can be so traumatized by certain aspects of your labour other than the pain that you need counselling, or that you can have nightmares reliving it every time you do actually get to close your eyes. Don't listen to the people harping on about how we're "programmed to forget" - not everyone does - but it will be OK.

They don't tell you that you can have your baby and not have a single feeling towards her; that you can be robbed of the scene social media and TV constantly portray of the moment your heart bursts with love for the being that you just brought into the world. They don't tell you that it can take months before you can even feel like the baby is yours and the love comes as you get to know the whirlwind that turned your life upside down. Don't worry if you don't have the magical immediate bond with your baby - not everyone does - but it will be OK.

They don't talk about how you can cry, not only on Day 3, but every single day, because you feel so overwhelmed you can't function. They don't talk about how you can have panic attacks about leaving the house with the baby or being left alone with the baby or being in front of people with the baby. There's no mention of how - even though you've just been through major physical trauma - you don't get to rest or recover. Don't stress about how every other Mum looks under control and at ease - not everyone is - but it will be OK.

They don't tell you that you may not feel like your body is even getting close to being back to normal until MONTHS after giving birth and that even then you still may not have enough control over parts of your body to allow you to return to exercise. Don't panic if you don't bounce back into your jeans or pre-baby life like every other mother that seems to be about - not everyone does - but it will be OK.

They don't tell you how sleep deprivation can cause you to turn you into a different person, and how something that's used as a form of torture isn't accepted as an excuse when you become a Mother. "Sleep when the baby sleeps" isn't always an option or possible, and having to act as the responsible parent of a newborn when you are running on empty is soul destroying. Don't mind what others appear to be doing - do your best and it will be OK.

They don't tell you how hard it is to breastfeed or how stressful and painful it is. They don't speak about how intense the pressure is on you to do this and how much of a failure you feel if it doesn't seem to be working. They don't tell you that often someone else can calm your crying baby much more easily than you as they are not lactating. Don't waste too much energy or too many tears on the breastfeeding if it isn't working; do whatever works best for you and your baby - it will be OK.

They don't tell you that even though you've wanted this baby for years, you can question yourself daily why you had her, or how you can physically panic at the question from others about having any more. Don't think this is forever; the fogs lifts and you will begin to see clearly again one day - things are going to be OK.

This is your journey; and it's going to be a difficult one. Chin up; one day at a time and you will get through it. Even though it seems impossible when every hour is torture, and when your baby is the one always screaming and never sleeping. Even when you see other Mothers gushing with love when you can't seem to find a single positive emotion within you. Even though you feel like you're in a dark cloud and you would give anything to take it all back...I promise you that on the other side you are going to meet so many other Mum's who have been through the same struggle as you.

It's the topic nobody talks about, the taboo subject within parenthood, the condition that makes Mums think having it means they have failed as a Mother.
Au contraire Momma-Bear; it only goes to show how strong you are to get through it.

Talk about it, keep going, learn to love; it will be OK.



Postnatal Depression (PND) affects one in seven women giving birth in Australia and can develop up to a year after giving birth. PND can range from a mild feeling of sadness to a paralysing depression and although the exact causes of PND are unknown, the enormous physical, emotional and social changes involved in becoming a parent seem to play a significant role. (*It is important to note that new fathers can also develop PND; particularly if their partner is depressed.*)