After Annabelle was born I suffered with postnatal depression quite badly. I felt as though I couldn’t cope with looking after a baby because I wasn’t good enough. In my eyes, Annabelle was perfect. She was amazing and these feelings overwhelmed me. Every task that I had to perform seemed enormous, even the little ones.
The biggest reason I felt like a failure was because I couldn’t breastfeed. Throughout my adult life, and probably my childhood too, I never questioned that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Nobody ever told me it was difficult and all the books that I had read and classes I had attended told me that if it hurts, take baby off and try again. Not once had anyone said that they had had to stop. So when I had to stop I was completely disheartened and felt like an absolute failure.
Through blogging and vlogging, I now realise that I am not alone. I am not the only person who has not been able to breastfeed and to have become depressed over it. I know now that there are mothers out there who have suffered just like I have and we are stronger versions of ourselves because of it.
Admitting I have postnatal depression has been difficult. Up until now, I have struggled to talk about it. I do think that there is often a negative stigma attached to depression. Some people find it hard to broach the subject with a sufferer and many people like me, find it hard to open up. I used to think that if I admitted it, that others would think that I am weak or a bad mother.
I know I am not a bad mother. I think the problem I faced after Annabelle was born was that I couldn’t cope with just how much I love her. I only wanted the best for her and I felt as though I couldn’t provide it for her. That everything I did was inadequate and she deserved more than I could give.
I do think that I was suffering in some ways during my pregnancy too. I was so reluctant to buy anything. As crazy as it might sound, I dreaded buying clothes or a pram and nappies in case I jinxed the pregnancy and would miscarry my baby. Our labour and birth was pretty traumatic and the doctor told us afterwards that if we had gone into surgery for the emergency caesarean a minute later that Annabelle and I might not be here today.
I started to feel happier once I took the advice of my doctor and health visitor and made myself busy. I went out and met other mums at baby and toddler groups. It was really tough to make friends as it felt as though everyone had already formed friendship groups. Some people weren’t very open to newcomers and this was quite upsetting to start with but thankfully, I found some truly wonderful friends who I can still rely on today.
I wish that I had joined an NCT group during my pregnancy. So many people I know still meet up with the mothers (and fathers) from their classes four years postpartum. If like me, you didn’t join an NCT class, the best advice I could give to anyone suffering is to speak up. Speak to a doctor, a midwife or a health visitor. Open up and talk to other mums. If face-to-face seems too daunting to begin with social media is a great place to remain anonymous. I know how hard it is to take those first steps and to make conversation with others, especially if people are cliquey and not very welcoming. Rejection in these instances is hard but it is not personal. I didn’t gel with a lot of other mums in baby groups in the early days but I have since heard that those women were fighting their own battles from imminent divorce to redundancy or health problems. It wasn’t about me, they just weren’t in the same head space.
I know that by admitting I had postnatal depression that I have helped one person and if this post helps another then I am glad that I have opened up. If you have a PND story you would like to share with me then feel free to leave a link below or contact me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to check out my YouTube video too. Bx