Parental Emotional Health

Parental Postnatal Mood

During your pregnancy you may have had a lot of different feelings; from excitement about meeting your baby, to worries about how you will cope with the new arrival.

Whether it is your first baby or you have been here before, having a baby is a big life event. For most parents in amongst the happy moments, there will be times when it can feel overwhelming, this is very normal.

Sometimes these feelings can be hard to deal with. You may have struggled with low mood and/or anxiety before, or this might be the first time you have felt like this. Either way there are some things that you can do that might help you feel better. There are services to help you too. It is important to talk about how you are feeling and get the support you need.

It is very common to have up and down moods in the early days and weeks after your baby is born, these are sometimes called 'the baby blues'. The baby blues can be caused by a combination of things, like hormones, tiredness, life changes, and worries about ‘getting it right’. This is not easy for parents. Be kind to yourselves because like all big changes it takes a bit of settling in to a new situation.

Dive Deeper

Look After Yourself

Doing what you can to take care of your self can help things feel a bit more manageable.

Eat well and regularly

It is not a great idea to try and lose weight in the early days and weeks after having a baby. Trying to eat a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is a better plan and will help you cope with the lack of rest and help your energy levels.

Getting Out & About

In the early days and weeks after you have given birth you should follow the advice of your midwife and GP before restarting any energetic exercise. However getting out in the fresh air for walks will help your mood – start with shorter distances and see how you feel.

Rest and Relax

Resting and relaxing when you can is important. When you get any time, use it to wind down and care for yourself. Rest when you can and leave the household chores. As long as you do the basics to keep your kitchen and bathroom clean, most other things can wait. Having rest can make everything feel easier to cope with.

  • Try relaxation techniques where you focus on keeping your breathing slow and steady.
  • Have a warm bath and/ or listen to calming music. Watch a favourite film , have a cuddle with your baby.
  • Get out in nature even if it is just a walk around the park or a sit in the garden.

Make contact with others

Chat on the phone or on ‘zoom’ with friends. You don’t even need to get out of your pyjamas! Talk about the baby if you want to but it is good to talk about other things too!

What Will People Think?

Some parents tell us that they feel bad for finding being a new parent a hard job. They worry it means they are a bad parent and that if they tell other people they will think that too.

This is not true. Lots of parents and carers struggle at times with feeling down and are still very good parents. When you talk to friends and family, you will find many of them remember finding it hard too.

Health professionals know it can be tough and want to do everything they can to help you feel well, and be able to enjoy being a parent to your child.

Asking for help is always a positive step. You and your whole family will benefit from getting the right support.

Getting Help

If every day feels a struggle and your mood is making it hard to enjoy your time with your baby it is important you get help.

If over a couple of weeks most days you;

  • Have lost interest in things you used to enjoy and wish you didn’t have to ‘ bother’ with anything.
  • Don’t want to be in touch with the people you usually would talk to about your feelings.
  • Constantly feel like you are a ‘rubbish parent’ to your baby and feel irritable and annoyed with those around you.
  • Struggle to rest even when you get the chance, or find it really hard to wake up even when your baby needs you.
  • Don’t feel able to enjoy your baby.

This can be a sign that your mood is low and you need to talk to a professional.

Some people might mainly have low mood, others will struggle to deal with anxiety as well. Anxiety can show itself when you;

  • Feel restless, scared and like something bad will happen.
  • Have panic attacks that make it hard to carry on with your day.
  • Begin to avoid situations that make you feel anxious.
  • Feel you have to do certain things in a certain way like cleaning/handwashing to keep safe.

Telling someone you are feeling anxious can mean you get the right help to stop it getting in the way of you doing the things you want, and need, to do.

NHS Talking Therapies Service Norfolk and Waveney have a special ‘perinatal’ service to support women during pregnancy and after birth. They also offer webinars for parents with a baby where the stresses of the parenting role is impacting on their wellbeing. The workshops will look at all the changes which happen during this time and explore how these changes can leave people stuck in a negative cycle. It also offers strategies on how to break this cycle in order to manage low mood and worry.


When It Feels Too Much To Cope With

You might find that whilst you are struggling with your feelings, you feel irritable and short tempered. This could be with loved ones, including your baby. Your baby is very tuned in to your feelings and may sense your frustration.

It can be hard to cope with these feelings and is more common than you might think. It is important that, if you feel like this, you give yourself time to get back in control of your emotions.

  • If you have a partner or other adult living with you ask them to take over. Even if that means waking them up. Go to another room, go for a walk, have something to eat and drink or take a shower.
  • If you are on your own put your baby safely in their cot when you feel the irritation building up. Go in another room. Slow down your breathing until you begin to feel better- make a drink and eat something. Call a friend if you need to and tell them how you are feeling. Go back to your baby and check on them.
  • If your baby is still not settling put them in their pram and go out for a walk with them.
  • Be careful however you are feeling to always handle your baby gently, and never shake them.
    If these feelings keep happening it is very important you tell someone about them to get more support. You will not be judged you will be taking an important step to making things better for you and your family.

Who Can Help?

Even in the middle of the night if you have no one to support you and you are worried about how you are feeling you can call 111 for support.

You can talk to your midwife (they are still there to help for the first 28 days after your baby is born). As well as your Health visitor or GP.

Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 have health professionals there to listen to how you are feeling. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can really help. They will be able to help you access any other support that could help you feel better too.

NHS Talking Therapies Service Norfolk and Waveney have a special ‘perinatal’ service to support women during pregnancy and after birth.

If you or your partner are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or of ‘not wanting to be here’ – seek support straight away. Call 111 or your GP for advice.

Call 999 or go to your local A&E if you feel at risk of hurting yourself or your baby. 

If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. Emergency SMS is part of the standard 999 service which has been designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech.

Who can Help?

Talk to your midwife, health visitor, or GP if you are struggling to have positive feelings about your baby or worried about how you are feeling. Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

Living Well with Baby Webinar - Workshops for parents and carers with a baby, where the stresses of the parenting role is impacting on their wellbeing.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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