Parental Postnatal Mood
How To Help Yourself
It is very common to have up and down moods in the early days and weeks after your baby is born. This 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.
- Being A New Parent During the Covid-19 Outbreak
- Look After Yourself
- What Will People Think?
- Getting Help
- When It Feels Too Much To Cope With
The coronavirus lock down means not being able to see family and friends you don’t live with face to face. Right now it means not being able to introduce your little one in the way you imagined. It is understandable that this can feel sad and disappointing. It is not as easy to get the support you want from those you are close to and this is hard.
- Talk to your family and friends about how you feel about what is happening.
- Use technology to help where you can. Using Facetime, WhatsApp and Skype can give you some face to face time and you can show off your baby. Share photos and videos with your loved ones – it can help them and you feel involved and connected.
- There are still things your family and friends can do to help - they can check in on how you are doing. Do some shopping and /or make meals to leave on the doorstep. They can even wave at you and the baby through the window.
- Keep a journal / diary of your lockdown life with a new baby – your child has been born at a strange time in history and will be interested to know all about it in the future.
None of these things are the same as being able to be with the people that are important to you at such a special time – but it can help a bit. Remember this time really won’t last forever. Every day that passes is one day closer to being able to be together.
Try and make the most of this time in a ‘bubble’ with your closest family getting to know your little one.
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. Look at our ‘Eat Better’ pages *here* for some ideas on this.
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. Have a sleep naps 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!
Make contact with other parents in your area – join our online community for local parents *here*.
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.
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. Or that might be the main problem for you. 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.
Norfolk Wellbeing Services have a special ‘perinatal’ service to support women during pregnancy and after birth. You can find out more *here*.
Some parents might find that whilst they are struggling with their mood they feel irritable and short tempered.
This could be with their loved ones, including your baby. Your baby is very tuned in to your feelings too 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 grown up 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.
There is a charity especially to support parents struggling with an unsettled baby. Their name is Cry-sis you can find advice on their website *here*. They have a helpline you can call between 09.00 and 22.00 every day on 08451 228669.
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 – all NHS services are all still there to help you during the coronavirus outbreak.
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.
Norfolk Wellbeing Services have a special ‘perinatal ‘service to support women during pregnancy and after birth. You can find out more *here*.
If you or your partner are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or of ‘not wanting to be here’, or any thoughts and feelings that are worrying you or loved ones – 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 right now.
Who Can Help?
If you are struggling you can talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP – all NHS services are all still there to help - even during the coronavirus outbreak.
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.
Health professionals will be able to talk about 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.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.
Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.
See, Hear, Respond - Best Beginnings and Barnado's are providing free support to pregnant families and new parents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.