This week is PANDA awareness week. I have spoken before about my struggles after having Margot and today I want to open up a little more about the signs and symptoms I experienced.
I have always been impacted by hormones, and during my pregnancy with Phoebe, I was very low in my first trimester. It was a dark place to be in, as I had expected I would be elated, but instead, I felt very depressed. It was a lonely time. Fortunately, my mood lifted once the second-trimester hit and I went on to have a lovely pregnancy and wonderful postpartum period with Phoebe. I had been so worried about PND after being so low in my first trimester but instead, I was on cloud 9, the post-birth hormones kept me as high as a kite.
Margot, my second was a completely different journey. After a tough pregnancy, Margot was born via scheduled c-section. Literally the second she came out I knew something was wrong. I felt no connection to her and struggled to bond. Breastfeeding was so challenging and I was getting virtually no sleep – she didn’t get day and night right for at least 2 weeks.
Initially, I hoped I just had the baby blues, but as the days and weeks went on I knew it was something more. It still took me about 3 months (and a hospital stay with mastitis) to fully acknowledge that my mental health needed help. I remember going for a walk one beautiful sunny spring day and crying the whole way. I felt like such a failure not being able to cope.
I saw my GP, started taking St Johns Wort and more importantly, put in place help and support around me. In truth, I didn’t really start feeling like myself again until after Margot was one, and I still struggle with anxiety. Mental health is a journey and one in which I am constantly working on.
PANDA has launched a fabulous Mental Health Checklist and I highly recommend you check it out if you or someone you know is struggling during pregnancy or once the baby is born. The more we talk about this and share our experiences, the more we can come together and support each other. You don’t have to suffer alone.