August 17, 2012 by dontbringlulubook
Getting what is known as “the Blues”, three to four days after having a baby is very common. Symptoms such as feeling anxious, guilty, sad or afraid that you are not up to being a good mother, feeling emotional and liable to cry for no reason or having a loss of appetite and being unable to sleep are all regarded as normal occurrences after having gone through childbirth, generally as a result of the hormonal change that takes place. But it is if these symptoms last longer than a few days and also include developing obsessions there is a risk that the blues are turning into postnatal depression.
One in ten new mothers go through postnatal depression, often, not straight after the birth as may be imagined, but when the baby is between four to six months old, although such a condition can emerge at any time during the baby’s first year. It is an illness whose cause is still unknown but may be due to difficult labour, hormone upheaval, poor diet, physical changes to the body, bad childhood experiences, loss of independence and suddenly having the responsibility of a helpless baby who is utterly dependent upon their mother, 24/7. It can start gradually or can come on very suddenly and can range from being mild to very extreme, with many mothers afraid to voice their fears to their health visitor through the worry that social services will take their baby away due to being seen as a bad mother.
Common signs of postnatal depression are those of feeling low and that there’s nothing of any good – rather than seeing positives, everything seems dark and full of negativity. Those mothers suffering from postnatal depression will often feel tired and lethargic with no interest in the outside world or in doing anything. There is often a sense of inadequacy, of feeling unable to cope and guilt associated with not being able to cope, feeling irritable, and expressing hostility or indifference to their partner.
In “Don’t Bring Lulu”, Doris Onions tells of the difficult labour she experienced with her eldest daughter, Sarah, with it lasting two days and her having to stay in hospital for a week after the birth. She talks of how, despite Sarah feeding and sleeping well, her mood darkened when Sarah was a few months old and as she said herself “whatever it was, I began to feel persecuted”. Her illness– never actually diagnosed as postnatal depression or puerperal fever – led her to feel she was being poisoned by her husband, Ron, to the extent she called the police and at one point, woke in the night in high terror, running to her neighbours in her night clothes. As her neighbour said when they called Ron to collect her” Your wife’s with us but she’s in a hell of a state. She’s not making any sense.”
Postnatal depression can take up to a year to get better and one of the most important steps to getting better, as Doris herself experienced by contacting her Uncle Dick and old school friend Joan Mayhew, is having someone to talk to and who will listen and point out the positives.