All of a sudden you have a vulnerable little life to look after. It’s a huge responsibility, and despite all the information out there about parenting, once you have the baby at home or in your arms you realise it’s all up to you! There is no single rule book for looking after a baby and it doesn’t always come naturally.
Even if you feel joy at bringing this new life into the world – and not everyone does – the newness of it all can throw anxiety and low moods into the mix of emotions you’re feeling. This rollercoaster of ups and downs can have a significant impact on your emotional and mental wellbeing.
A baby can bring challenges
A new baby means many new things to learn and get used to. The little ones can’t talk, so it can be hard to understand what they need. It’s often very difficult for new parents to understand why their baby is crying. It can be frustrating and scary. It can be overwhelming sometimes.
At the same time, sleep patterns are disrupted. Trying to make decisions when you’re tired or upset can add to your anxiousness. As the baby develops, routines change again and then again.
We know the challenges faced by new parents in relation to caring for their new baby can sometimes lead to postnatal anxiety or depression, which can occur straight after birth or appear gradually in the weeks or months during the first year after birth.
Some of these challenges include:
- Recovery from birth while caring for a newborn
- Lack of confidence in your ability to understand baby’s needs
- Exhaustion while adapting to a demanding sleep/feed schedule
- Physical demands of breastfeeding – pain associated with latching-on, cracked nipples and mastitis
- Inability to breastfeed
- The demands of running a household while managing your own and the baby’s needs
- Navigating the expectations and advice of family and friends.
Seek help as early as possible
Postnatal anxiety and depression can be a frightening and isolating experience as parents try to deal with their symptoms at the same time as needing to care for their new baby. They might also have other children to care for.
It’s important to remember that there are treatments, supports and services available to help you through this experience, and to seek help early if you think you might be developing postnatal anxiety or depression.