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PostNatalDepression - Guest blog by Ruth Briddon

PND – Postnatal Depression. Who’d have thought it? Not me, that’s for sure. I’m more than happy to hold my hand up and say ‘my name is Ruth Briddon and I’d never heard of Postnatal Depression’. Not only am I prepared to admit I’d never heard of it, I’m also willing to confess that I wouldn’t have listened to a healthcare professional talking about it at one of my antenatal classes. Why? Because I was 33 and being pregnant was the best thing that had ever happened to me. My husband and I had made a conscious decision to have a family and the timing was right. So, why would I have listened to someone saying that some women can get baby blues which, if left untreated, could lead to postnatal depression? Being a mum will bring sheer elation and a feeling of completeness; not depression. As it turned out, depression was never discussed at my antenatal classes. Shame, as I became a statistic, albeit a silent one as no-one picked up on my symptoms, which included not wanting to speak to anyone, constantly feeling tired even if I’d had a good sleep, anxiety, tearful and irritable mood, to name a selection.

Question: If you were starting a new job, something completely different to what you’ve done before, would you expect to understand, adapt and be confident on day one?

Answer: No, of course you wouldn’t. You would be sent on training courses, have someone mentor you for a few months and reassure you that you will understand what you’re doing in time and to not rush or push yourself too much. At the end of the working day you would go home and mentally switch off and have some you time. This is exactly what you should be telling yourself when you become a parent, especially for the first time. If you’re expecting your second child, treat it as if you’ve been promoted and are now a manager of a small team!

I firmly believe that mental preparation is just as important as the physical preparation. Know your options. For example, we all want an easy delivery – two coughs, a little push and out pops baby. I know of one mum at my Children’s Centre talks who expressed her concerns of having a C-Section to her midwife who dismissed her worries as ‘silly’ because she was only 24 weeks pregnant. She tried to dismiss her worries of:

1. Where will my husband be during the c-section?

2. Will I be awake?

3. Will I feel it?

4. Is it safe?

and carry on with her pregnancy. Due to her age and other contributory factors, it was decided that a C-Section was best for her. I bet her midwife wished she’d listened to her now. By talking about her concerns and even discussing the operation itself, would have alleviated the stresses the poor lady later endured.

Why do we only prepare physically when being a parent can present the most mentally challenging situations we’ll ever face?

Written by Ruth Briddon Author of ‘Being Sarah Chilton’