Maternity Leave: Returning to Work (part III)

I've had a lot of people I work with ask the question, “How are you feeling after having a baby?” and to be honest, it’s been hard! 


It can be difficult to explain to other people the feelings of post-natal depression (PND).


Becoming a parent is a life-altering experience, it’s AMAZING but I’ve also found it to be really hard at the same time.


It’s accompanied by unexpected challenges, and for some, this includes postpartum depression (PPD). 


PPD is a complex condition that affects many new parents, but it's important to remember that you're not alone, and there are ways to navigate through it. 


In this blog, I want to help explain what PPD is, and its common signs, and provide practical tips and tricks to help you. 


I also wanted to write about this to help people understand what new parents can be going through.


Understanding Postpartum Depression


Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect individuals after childbirth. 


It differs from the "baby blues," which are common feelings of sadness or mood swings that typically last for a few days to a week after giving birth.


PPD, on the other hand, can persist for weeks or even months, significantly impacting a person's ability to function and care for themselves and their baby.


I’ve been lucky in the sense that I haven’t found it difficult to care for Evie, however, after being in intensive care after giving birth due to my extremely high blood pressure and being at high risk of a stroke or seizure, a whole new level of anxiety has been triggered within me.


Common Signs of Postpartum Depression


Persistent Sadness or Hopelessness: Feeling overwhelmed, sad, or like you're in a constant state of despair, even when things are going well.


Loss of Interest or Pleasure: Experiencing a diminished interest in activities you once enjoyed.


Changes in Appetite and Sleep Patterns: Significant changes in eating and sleeping habits, whether it's excessive sleep or insomnia, and changes in appetite (overeating or loss of appetite).


Intense Irritability or Anger: Experiencing frequent mood swings, irritability, or even anger that seem out of proportion to the situation.


Difficulty Bonding with the Baby: Struggling to form a strong emotional connection with your newborn, can lead to feelings of guilt. 


I felt like my daughter didn’t love me and that I was doing a terrible job. Which in hindsight, wasn’t the case at all. 


I am a brilliant mum to Evie, and I’m proud to say that!


Physical Symptoms: Experiencing unexplained physical symptoms like headaches, stomach problems, or muscle pain.


I have since developed (IRRITATING!!) muscle twitches!!! 


When my anxiety is really bad, my legs and arms are constantly twitching, which is something that triggers my anxiety even more because I associate that with being in intensive care.


Lack of Energy and Motivation: Feeling constantly tired, drained, and lacking the energy to perform daily tasks.


Dealing with Postpartum Depression: Practical Tips


Seek Professional Help: The first step towards healing is reaching out to a healthcare provider or mental health professional. 


They can offer an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.


I am proud to say, that I sought help through Talking Change. 


My CBT Therapist, Fran, has been incredible! She has given me some really good techniques to deal with my anxiety attacks and just knowing the science behind why we feel the way that we do has been so helpful!


Build a Support System: Surround yourself with people who understand and support you. This could include your partner, family members, friends, or support groups for new parents.


This is also really hard to do! Because if you haven’t had a baby yourself, it’s so hard to understand the way that new parents feel. 


As a friend or family member who hasn’t had a baby, please don’t assume that we are okay because we are being silly with our babies and trying to make them laugh... sometimes, we just want a hug!


My wonderful colleagues at Astute have been amazing in the sense that they are there to listen and support! 


Nothing has changed at work for me. I’m still invited out. I get asked every day how I am, and if I’m not myself, it’s picked up on and support is offered. 


Coming back to work and having support from the company has been a breath of fresh air!!!!


Self-Care is Crucial: Prioritise self-care, even in small ways. 


Take time for yourself, practice mindfulness, exercise, and try to get enough rest. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup.


Open Communication: Be honest with your partner, family, and friends about what you're going through. 


Sharing your feelings can be a powerful step towards healing. 


I struggled with this massively and I am not afraid to admit that this was hard for me. 


I don’t like telling my partner when I’m struggling because it worries me that I would be putting my emotions and moods onto him! But you don’t know what you don’t know right?


Dealing with postpartum depression is a courageous journey towards healing and well-being. 


Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. 


With the right support, treatment, and self-compassion, you can emerge from this challenging period and embrace the joys of parenthood. 


You are not alone!


If you are reading this and you have friends who have had children, please check in on us. We won't always tell you if we are struggling.