Where is the support when your baby won’t sleep?
I saw a mum recently who was suffering from post-natal depression (PND), badly. She cried for most of the time I was there. I could see she was detached and really struggling to do the daily things she needed to do with her baby, and her family. She told me she felt terrible, she thought she was a bad mum, she felt she couldn’t ask for help. She said that when she left the house at times she didn’t want to come home. And she cried. I felt terrible for her because I could see this was not the way she wanted to be. I knew she felt overwhelmed and in a place she didn’t know how to get out of. This mum needed help.
Post-natal depression is, according to the NHMRC, “the most prevalent mood disorder associated with childbirth and affects up to 15% of childbearing women.” This is a lot of women seeing as over 300,000 babies are born in Australia every year.
The research indicates that PND is “the result of a combination of physical, mental and social factors” and for this mum she was definitely in the high risk category after suffering it with her first child.
This visit really affected me. I was so sad and near to tears when I left. I gave her a big hug and tried to tell her that things would get better but I know, when you are in the depths of despair, words mean very little. I felt what she really needed was an advocate. Someone who could speak on her behalf and go to her family and friends and ask them to rally around her. I offered to be that person for her but she said she felt she could do it. She had a great GP who was monitoring her and a close family who really wanted to help. She just needed to be honest and tell them exactly how she was feeling.
This mum really made me think; what is with us women, trying to be superwomen? I shake my head when I think of all the women out there just trying to do it all, with little or no help or support. And then we get so guilty when it doesn’t go according to plan, or we just can’t make it all work.
I get so upset when I see mothers criticising other mothers for the choices they make. You only need to take a look at some of the online forums out there to see that we are so tough on each other. I realise parenting is an incredibly emotional subject and people want to feel that their way is the best way, or they want to feel vindicated for their parenting decisions, but really! As any mother would know, no one would knowingly do something that hurt her child. We are all just trying to get through, just trying to make it work.
We need to bring the village back! We need support and encouragement from other mums, not criticism and judgement. I am not being a Pollyanna about it, I realise our world today is different; we are much more isolated, busy, etc. but when I spoke to this mum I really wished there was a community pulling together for her, helping and supporting her, letting her know she wasn’t alone, or different.
What do you think? Have you felt isolated and alone, or judged? And how do you think we could make it better for mums?
And if you know someone who may be struggling, or if you are struggling yourself, speak to your GP and we also have a counsellor who can help you through the tough times. Contact us via the form on this page and we can get you some help quickly.
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