As some of you may know, I had a tough time after the birth of my daughter Margot. You can read about my early days breastfeeding here. I wanted to elaborate a little more about my mental health during that time and some strategies I used to get through it.
Firstly, some context. I am a type “A” personality and have struggled on and off with anxiety during adulthood. I am deeply impacted by hormones and have found contraceptive pills, pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones impact my mental health.
Margot was a difficult baby to conceive as my husband had been very unwell and on medication that we couldn’t safely conceive on. Due to some miracles in timing, we conceived her but it wasn’t smooth sailing. I had a large subchoronic haematoma which caused a lot of bleeding and stress for over half my pregnancy.
I was also working in an external job, running Franjo’s and had a toddler with my family all in another country.
The perfect storm for some rather major risk factors to my mental health once Margot was born.
I immediately knew something wasn’t right when Margot was born. I couldn’t connect with her. Breastfeeding was horrible and I was getting extreme anxiety during every feed.
As the days and weeks progressed my husband and I both knew that this was a little more than the baby blues. I tried to battle through it, but at about 10 weeks (after a hospitalization stay for mastitis) I fell to pieces and knew I needed help.
I sought help a few times from a few different GPs during the first few months. What helped me the most was:
- Talking to the right GP. In the beginning I started mentioning how I was feeling but was dismissed, I “shopped” around and finally connected with a GP who ‘got’ what I was going through.
- Getting external help. I got a nanny, a cleaner and tried to lower some of my standards. Now I know this financially isn’t possible for everyone. We reduced our mortgage payments to the bare minimum to cover the cost for a few months.
- I saw a psychologist who helped me with some sleeping strategies as my lack of sleep (caused as much by anxiety as the baby) was greatly impacted my mental health.
- I took Remotiv. I recommend you discuss all medication options with your GP and health practitioner to decide what is best for you.
- I tried to limit screen time.
- I had Saturday mornings “off” where I went to yoga and had a coffee by myself. I loved that time.
- I talked about it with my friends and family.
All in all, it took me about 12 months to really start feeling like myself again. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t linear.
Franjo’s Kitchen supports PANDA by donating 5c from every choc chip product sold online. If you feel like you are struggling, then we highly recommend getting in touch with them.
Talk to your partner, your GP or health practitioner. Help is there if you ask for it. Lots of love Mamas. You are stronger than you know.