Birth Recovery and Postnatal Depression
Having a baby can be one of the greatest joys on earth, but the birth of a new mother is one of the most significant physical and psychological transitions most women will ever experience.
The physical act of nurturing a baby inside your body requires a huge amount of resources, at the mothers expense, and then there's the physical act of delivery - there's a reason why it's called labour! Chances are you also started your motherhood journey on very limited sleep and the birth did not go as expected or planned, maybe it was even traumatic.
Then there's feeding - which is bloody hard - both physically and mentally! Whether that's breastfeeding, another drain on your nutrients and resources and a battering of your body, or bottle feeding, often involving a lot of emotional turmoil and maybe days or even weeks of pumping.
Then there's the hormonal changes, the expectations and pressures from society and this huge psychological shift, and we haven't even talked about the night wakings and sleep deprivation yet!
All of this can mean we start our journey into motherhood completely depleted. That moment that promised to be filled with so much joy, can instead feel empty, confusing, just too exhausting. Postnatal depletion is a real thing, and it can last for years.
What was your experience? What was your real deal? How did you recover from your birth? Did you start motherhood depleted? How did you cope? Let's get the conversation going and #LetsTalkAbout #MotherhoodTheRealDeal
Below we've shared our personal stories and coping tools on this topic.
Louise's Story & Top Tips
Amy's Story & Top Tips
I had a really tough time around the birth of my first child. My father was critically unwell and I was in a state of grief and shock. It's no surprise that my experience of birth was traumatic with that maelstrom of emotion. But it was also labouring in a hospital that was overstretched, pressuring mums to get on with it and I felt rocked to my core. Energetically I felt completely bereft, emotionally I was trying to split myself between the joy of celebrating new life while grieving for my poor father, and physically I experienced a serious tear and it literally felt like the bottom of the boat had fallen out.
I held my precious angel in my arms and wondered how I was going to look after her when I wasn’t sure I had enough in me to look after myself. I felt afraid, alone, exhausted and deeply sad and it was tough getting through each day. The words ‘enjoy every moment’ still pierce me because it was a time shrouded by grief and stress, punctuated with the most enormous love and desire to give every cell and fibre of my being to my baby. There was just nothing in the tank.
How did I cope? I reached out to numerous practitioners but it took a long time to find the right fit. I eventually found an amazing postnatal depression counsellor (I don’t know if it was PND, grief or complete exhaustion and to me it doesn’t really matter, any human would’ve felt like I did) who in partnership with me created a new self-care toolkit. All the things that I used to do to nourish myself became inaccessible when I became a parent – I didn’t have the time, the space, the finances, the energy and I felt guilty as hell.
The deepest lesson I learnt at that time is that if I didn’t nourish me, I was rubbish at nurturing those in my care and if I couldn’t do it for me, I had to do it for my little girl. My daughter deserved a mother who was healthy and whole, with the energy to cope with the demands of parenthood… and it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon! So we set about carving new healthy habits that were do-able during the chaos of those early days and this is how one ‘micro moment’ at a time, self-care (and the love of my husband and family, and damn good therapy) put me back together.
Suzy's top tips
Go gently on you. What you have just been through is enormous and being born a mother is one of the most significant transitions we go through in our lives. Take time to heal and replenish and know that it won’t be this hard forever. Make soothing practices a feature of daily life, just a moment dotted here and there, and soon there will be a resurgence of energy!
Yoga was my tonic in reclaiming my energy, helping me express and process my emotions and physically healing after birth. I have shared my favourite soothing and strengthening poses in the Nourish App – just one pose can be enough to make a difference – and I hope they can be a real tonic to you too.