How often have any of us put on a brave face and said “I’m fine” when we’re not? Feeling sad often makes us withdraw or lash out just when we need others most. One may feel it’s hard to ask for help.
Why ask for help
When good things happen, like having a baby, it can be even more difficult to say you’re not happy. But it’s common to sometimes feel a little scared, sad, frustrated, or lost, in the weeks after birth.
Changes in mood and mood fluctuations in the first week, can be related to hormonal changes as your body adjusts to not being pregnant, bonding with your baby, and to producing milk.
It’s not all down to chemistry though. You’ve just been through childbirth, which can make you feel out of control and can sometimes be traumatic, and on top of that you’re adjusting to being responsible for a baby with very little sleep. There are no manuals telling you what to do, but there are a million people with opinions, and it’s easy to feel like you’re getting it wrong.
You don’t have to say you’re fine all the time . Feeling a bit up and down is common. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t cope or that you’re a not a great mother. If you are concerned do not hesitate to seek advice from your doctor.
Sometimes just telling someone how you’re feeling can be a relief.
Tips for asking for help:
- Imagine what advice you would give a friend who was feeling upset… Would you tell them to keep their feelings to themselves? Or tell someone?
- Think about all the people you could talk to. Try not to instantly discount anyone. Who would you most like to talk to?
- Would you like them just to know how you feel, or are there also things you want help with?
- Try to speak with them uninterrupted, even if only for five minutes, by signalling that you want to talk about something important: “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
- Explain how you feel, and let them know “I could use some help.”
- Watch how they respond, without assuming that they’re judging.
- If you feel like they haven’t ‘got it’, explain again.
People want to know how you really are, the face behind the “fine”. Letting someone know how you feel is likely to make you feel better, and might also get you some practical help. It’s definitely worth a try.
How are you? If you feel like you want more advice and support, there are a range of services you can access:
- PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia to recover from post and antenatal depression and anxiety, a serious illness that affects around 100,000 Australian families every year. Its helpline operates PANDA National Helpline (Mon to Fri, 9am - 7.30pm AEST) Call 1300 726 306. http://www.panda.org.au/
- Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. Its 24-hour/7 day a week helpline offers free, confidential support with a mental health professional. Tel. 1300 22 4636. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
- Just Speak Up is a Beyond Blue initiative and features personal stories about experiencing depression and anxiety around the time of becoming a parent. Have a read of the community members' stories of hope, recovery and resilience – then share your own, or jump on our online forums to join the conversation. https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/pregnancy-and-new-parents/just-speak-up?sekw=35394356376
- BluePages provides information on treatments for depression based on the latest scientific evidence. It also offers screening tests for depression and anxiety, and links to other helpful resources. https://bluepages.anu.edu.au/
- COPE (Centre of Perinatal Excellence) provides high quality, practical information to help YOU work through all the emotional challenges of becoming a parent. http://cope.org.au/ and you can contact COPE @ (03) 9376 6321
- You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help and advice on a number of emotional and mental health topics. Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.