Life After Baby

Whether it’s your first child, second, third, or beyond – life after baby is a period of upheaval and adjustment for each member of the family, but none more so than the mother.

It is perfectly normal to have feelings of overwhelm and tearfulness, in addition to a range of other intense and seemingly contrasting emotions – such as excitement, sadness, joy, fear and doubt.

On top of the physical demands of caring for a baby, your hormones are all over the place.

life after baby

In addition, it is common to experience other pressures, such as:

  • Social isolation and/or lack of support;
  • Difficult pregnancy or childbirth experiences;
  • Lack of sleep;
  • Financial hardship;
  • Previous experience of depression or family/personal history of mental health difficulties;
  • Difficulties in family and/or partner relationships;
  • Stressful life events, such as a death in the family,  job loss, or past unresolved grief;
  • Experience of abuse in childhood or our own experiences of being parented;
  • Unworkable expectations of parenthood;
  • Certain character traits eg perfectionism;
  • Nutritional deficiencies.

But how do you know whether your feelings and reactions are just part of life after baby – or when it crosses the border into postnatal depression?

It is easy to see why mothers may wonder if it is just what is to be expected in life after baby, or depression – because the symptoms are similar (eg disrupted sleep, anxious thoughts, social withdrawal, and increased stress).

The question is, how much is this affecting your capacity to look after yourself and your baby.

Regardless, it is important to remember that if you are struggling or feeling distressed, you need to seek out support.

Postnatal Depression: Symptoms to Be Aware Of

Feelings of guilt and inadequacy are common in postnatal depression, which is compounded by social expectations about parenthood.

Women’s accounts of postnatal depression have been associated with a conflict between their own identity and the cultural scripts of motherhood that can exist in societies (eg to always be selfless and self-sacrificing). Comparisons between themselves, others, and with how parenthood is represented in the media, can also acerbate feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness.

Postnatal depression can cause women to have difficulties bonding with their babies; while other women with postnatal depression may not have this particular challenge.

If you think you might benefit from speaking to a professional then it is a good idea because the chance to ‘check in’ with someone may ensure that you are looking after yourself.

Being offered tools to assist you in coping through this time can be useful. Often parents are pressured into prioritising their babies and neglecting their own needs, yet looking after yourself is just as important after a baby as at any other time in your life.

It is important to understand that this does not reflect on your ability to be a good parent for your child. Tailored support depending on the needs of the parent is important to enhance the wellbeing of all involved.

Parents can find support and comfort in a variety of different ways: their partners and families; friends; parents groups; child health support and/or talking therapy with a psychologist.

Dr Anna Woodall psychologistAuthor: Dr Anna Woodall, B Psych (Hons), D Psych (Clinical), MAPS.

Dr Anna Woodall has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of East London, and over 10 years of experience delivering psychological support and mental health research in Australia and the United Kingdom. Anna has recently returned to Brisbane from England.

To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Dr Anna Woodall, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 5422.