'Not coping as a new mum? Asking for help is the bravest thing you can do'

1/17/2022 5:48:00 PM

Does every day feel like #BlueMonday since you had your baby? Here's why asking for help is the bravest – and best – thing you can do: #baby #parenting #PND

Bluemonday, Baby

Does every day feel like BlueMonday since you had your baby? Here's why asking for help is the bravest – and best – thing you can do: baby parenting PND

It's hard looking after a newborn. And sometimes the upheaval of a new baby and hormonal changes after birth can knock your mental health for six. If that sounds like you, please ask for help, says our expert family GP – who, as a mum herself, knows how it can feel

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We still don\u2019t really talk about it \u2013 or at least perhaps not completely honestly \u2013 but having a baby is hard.Mon 17 Jan 2022 10.E.The Grenadier Guards have been urged not to lobby for a specific member of the Royal family to replace the Duke of York, it has emerged.

Hard on the body, hard on the mind.\nThere is still an expectation that pregnancy and parenthood are solely lightness and joy, and even if they aren\u2019t, we still, as mothers, put that expectation on ourselves.02 GMT A s a mother to three boys, there are many days when I question the decisions I make.\nBut it is tough. Register for free to continue reading Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists register Please enter a valid email Please enter a valid email Password Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number First name Please enter your first name Special characters aren’t allowed Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters Last name Please enter your last name Special characters aren’t allowed Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters Select your year of birth 2004.\nAs a GP, I see patients all the time who have had operations and are signed off work for a period of time. At the same time, we are bombarded by parents publicising their own pride in their offspring’s achievements on Instagram and Facebook and in WhatsApp groups, meaning it’s easy to feel as if everyone else knows what they’re doing. They\u2019re told not to lift anything heavier than a kettle, to rest, to sleep, to heal. In an email sent to all members of the regiment on Saturday, Lieutenant General Roly Walker wrote: “Buckingham Palace have informed me that in due course the colonelcy, along with the Duke’s other titles and affiliations, will be reallocated to another member of the Royal family, but clarified it will not be returned to The Duke of York.

And yet, when you have had a baby \u2013 whether you delivered vaginally or abdominally \u2013 instead of having that time off for your body to rest, to heal and to recover, you\u2019re dealing with the huge hormonal changes and shifts that happen after birth and looking after a newborn baby as well!\n\n \n \n \n \n And in the couple of years, it has been harder than ever to deal with a newborn and all the changes that they bring in the midst of a global pandemic which may have meant you losing some of the support that you had hoped for, be that family or groups or just seeing people\n Dr Philippa Kaye, expert family GP and mum of 3\n \n \n \n\n\nMaternal mental health problems are more common than most people think. Yet the parental impostor syndrome many people have – that they are faking it, and will never cut it as a parent – is seldom acknowledged. One of the scariest statistics I have ever come across \u2013which still jolts me every time I read it \u2013 is that the commonest cause of maternal death, from 6 weeks to 1 year after having a baby, is suicide. This is how seriously we need to be taking maternal mental health. There is a lot of research around impostor syndrome at work, and this falls under that same umbrella. It can be life-threatening.\n\n \nUnfortunately, for many reasons, lots of women suffer in silence, or are too frightened to come forward and ask for help.” Ranee, 52, lives in south-west London with her husband and their two adopted children. Shortly I will write to The Duke of York on behalf of the Regiment, to thank him for his time as colonel.

But it is so important you do.\n\n \n \n \n \n Tell us, tell us how it really is \u2013 so that we can give you the support you need\n Dr Philippa Kaye, expert family GP and mum of 3\n \n \n \n\n\nYou can see your GP about how you\u2019re feeling at any time; you don\u2019t need to wait for your postnatal check-up. Because of this, it took a long time for them to be matched with their children as many councils are keen to match the ethnic backgrounds of potential parents and children.\u00a0Saying that, your postnatal check-up is an appointment for you, not for baby. Your GP will ask you about your mental health, and how you are finding things as a new mum (or as a new mum again); if you\u2019re not finding things OK, please use the opportunity to say so. ‘It was as if I had fake written on my forehead’ … Ranee and her husband, Sam, who have two adopted children.\nSigns and symptoms you may want to talk to your doctor about\nMood changes in the week after birth.

Many women will experience what is often called the \u201cbaby blues\u201d, mood changes during the 1st week or so after your baby is born, and which are thought to be due to the hormonal changes after delivery. “It was as if I had a siren above me, or ‘fake’ written on my forehead.\u00a0You might notice that you are emotional, irritable, anxious or feel low but these tend to go away after a few days on their own.\u00a0 I remember for each of my children, on about day 4, being overwhelmed with emotions about everything and being extremely tearful \u2013 and extremely relieved when, after a few days, although the fatigue kicked in hugely, my symptoms disappeared. My children were really picky eaters, and all of this made me think I didn’t know what I was doing.\nPersistent low mood and feelings of hopelessness. Postnatal depression affects about 1 in 10 women, and tends to start between about 2 and 8 weeks after delivery \u2013 but it can start as late as a year after birth. “I didn’t have any mum friends and I’d gone straight from working to being a stay-at-home mum.

Symptoms can include low mood, feeling sad and depressed, feeling of hopeless and feeling that you are worthless or a bad mother. You may not be able to find the pleasure in anything, feel that you can\u2019t manage or be very tearful. “Occasionally it comes back when we’re dealing with school issues, but I now have a network of friends who have also adopted and that has helped me gain some perspective.\u00a0 People often describe feeling extremely guilty about their feelings \u2013 especially if, for example if they feel unconnected to their baby.\nAnxiety and intrusive thoughts. “I sometimes felt as if there was a model parent out there, but I learned to lower my expectations, and understood that my children don’t know any different. Although I didn\u2019t have postnatal depression, I did have intrusive thoughts.

Whenever I walked down the stairs holding my eldest child, an intrusive and unwanted thought would come into my head and, in my mind\u2019s eye, I would see myself dropping him down the stairs, I would see him spreadeagled, unmoving on the floor and feel my heart race with fear. I know I will make mistakes and I have to forgive myself and not get het up. These intrusive thoughts can be extremely distressing and can have a significant impact on your ability to function and parent. You may have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby. But I’ve learned that you just have to set your own standard.\n\n \nFlashback or distressing thoughts about your labour and birth. Post traumatic stress disorder can also be related to pregnancy, for example, if you have had a distressing time giving birth. One day you’ll fail, the next day you’ll feel less of a failure, and so on, until it normalises.

Here, there may be intrusive thoughts and flashbacks about the event, as well as nightmares and physical sensation of panic.\nHallucinations, delusions, extreme confusion. “I have two amazing kids who are teenagers, and I know they will forge their own lives, and I just want them to be happy. More rarely \u2013 in about 1 in 500 women \u2013 a condition called post-partum psychosis may occur. It tends to start within 2 weeks of delivery but often happens within a few days. It’s hard to imagine someone with so much parenting experience could feel as if she were a “fake” who could be found out – but, she says, social media often leaves her feeling that she is not good enough. Here, you may have hallucinations, delusions, feel paranoid or very confused.

You may not necessarily be aware of your own symptoms and often it is a partner or loved one who is concerned. “It’s so easy to scroll through perfect Facebook photos and Instagrammable moments and forget that a lot of it is smoke and mirrors. Post-partum psychosis is a medical emergency and needs treatment urgently.\n\n \nThere are treatments available \u2013 treatments that work, including psychological (talking) therapy as well as medications. Lucille with two of her children, Freja and Elijah.\u00a0 I see women every week who are struggling postnatally and thankfully, in my job I also get to see them as they get better with support.\n\n \n \n \n \n You are not alone.” Blair says this is something she has heard before.

You are not a failure. Asking for help is absolutely the bravest thing that you could ever do\n Dr Philippa Kaye, expert family GP and mum of 3\n \n \n \n\n\nOver the years, many women have told me of the voice in their head telling them that they are a failure or a bad mum for feeling low and that needing help would prove how bad a parent they are. “One of the things I advise is to try to limit social media, or complement it with face-to-face conversation with other parents.\nTo everyone out there who may have that voice in their head: the voice is wrong. Saying you are struggling and asking for help shows just how great a parent you are.” Lucille is a jewellery designer and lives with chronic pain owing to a medical condition.\n\n \nAbout our expert,\u00a0Dr Philippa Kaye\nDr Philippa Kaye\u00a0works as a GP in both NHS and private practice.

She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy\u2019s, King\u2019s and St Thomas\u2019s medical schools in London, training\u00a0in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. She is also home schooling her youngest because he is at risk of anaphylaxis.\u00a0Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on\u00a0child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3. People look at me in horror when I tell them this, but it works for us.\n\n\n \n Pics: Getty Images\nRead more:\nGetting your baby\u2019s jabs is more important now that ever, says our expert GP \u2013 and here\u2019s why\nSpots and rashes in babies and children \u2013 in pictures, with advice from our expert GP\u00a0\nBronchiolitis and RSV in babies: how to spot the symptoms\n\u00a0 .