Did you know suicide was found to be the 5th most common cause of death both during pregnancy and 6 weeks after birth? That’s 1 in 6 women.
In 2018, a study found suicide was the leading cause of death during the first year after pregnancy. 91% of new mothers experience intrusive thoughts.
Postnatal depression affects more than 1 in 10 women in the first year post-birth. It definitely affected me. I felt safe in my home but overwhelmed by the confines of 4 walls. I loved spending time with friends and family, but was quickly exhausted by it. My patience wore thin all the time. I felt overwhelmed by being touched, suffocated by clothes being just slightly too tight, even physically seeing people rush around made me grit my teeth.
I was 1 in 10.
The months following the birth of my son I felt like a completely different person, the old part of me watching in disgust of the person I had become. Postnatal depression affected everything from my sleep to the way I ate. I craved ‘feel good’ foods constantly and I put on a lot of weight very quickly. I’d tuck into my fourth chocolate bar whilst simultaneously telling myself I was disgusting and I didn’t deserve to eat. I didn’t have the energy (physically or mentally) to cook a proper meal.
My hair fell out and left me with bold patches. I cried every day, multiple times a day. Sometimes I even felt angry when Tristan was ready for a feed. This was magnified during cluster-feeding periods where I was sick and tired of being touched or even having somebody sit too close to me. I both loved and hated my new life.
I felt lonely all the time. I could easily go days only jabbering away to Tristan in that overenthusiastic, over excitable mum voice that would get his attention and make him smile. I got a lot of my socialisation from my job and all of a sudden there I was, talking my non-speaking, non-understanding child through what we were doing throughout the day. Very little adult conversation or interactions. I felt trapped and suffocated at home, yet I struggled to leave the house and any time I stepped out of the front door I felt like my chest would cave in and I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up.
During my pregnancy, I had more appointments than I could count. I saw a midwife every 3-5 weeks, I saw doctors, mental health nurses and cardiologists. Postpartum, I had very few.
Reach out to your friends, family members, coworkers, even your neighbours. Ask them how their baby is, but also focus on how they are doing. How do they feel?
image credit – dr Kelly Vincent
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