Congratulations! You have a new baby! A squirmy, wailing little one is placed on your chest. Friends and family flock, bearing gifts, to cuddle the new bundle of joy. It’s everything you had hope for, waited for, and now that day has arrived. At first the adrenaline is pumping – every peep, every cry is responded to with a feeding, a changed diaper or a cuddle. You lie awake watching the peaceful, sleeping breaths rise and fall while you marvel at their miniscule fingernails.
And the days go on. And the nights go on. In those early weeks, the days blend into the nights as you run on a 24-hour clock. Regular meals, bathroom breaks and showers are replaced by non-stop feeding, changing, comforting, cuddling. You feel your brain change and become muddled and exhausted. You feel your mood change and become irritable and unpredictable. Could this be post-partum depression? Or anxiety? You flip through the stack of pamphlets from the hospital, bleary-eyed, to read the signs.
- Severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Change in appetite
- Social withdrawal
- Overwhelming fatigue
And the list goes on. Most new parents will experience some, if not all, of these symptoms in the first few weeks. The more serious symptoms include:
- Difficulty bonding with your baby or fearing you might harm them
- Insomnia and extreme exhaustion
- Feelings of shame or worthlessness
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
This is the time when our friends, family and partners need to be aware and watch out like hawks for these signs becoming more severe or persistent. It’s easy to overlook a new parent in favour of holding a new baby and tending to their many needs. Please watch the new parents too. New parents – watch yourselves!
Post-partum depression and anxiety can be treated promptly and effectively if caught in time. At least 15% of new mothers will experience post-partum depression or anxiety, so you’re not alone, nor is there ever any shame in seeking help. Speak with your doctor or call the nursing hotline to discuss your symptoms and make a plan for your wellness, which can include medication and counselling.
If you decide that counselling is right for you, please call Bayridge Family Centre at 905-319-1488 to make an appointment. There is no need to struggle alone.