As the early days of having your baby begin to stretch into months, we recognise that things change and move on. As part of our Health Visiting offer, we can support you and your baby mental wellbeing. We know that many parents don’t feel able to talk about how they might really be feeling because they are worried about what other people may think. It is really important that you share these feelings with someone so that you know that you are not alone and that you can get all the support you need.
How to look after your own mental health
Having a new baby is a life-changing event for both parents. You are adjusting to a huge change, socially, personally, psychologically, and physically. This type of change is enough to unsettle anyone. It can also be confusing having so many changes and not knowing whether the way you’re feeling is just a normal part of motherhood/fatherhood or if it’s low mood or depression.
Having a baby can also put a strain on relationships, whether that is between you as parents, or relationships with existing children in the family who are also adapting to the changes a new baby brings. This website has lots of information on it about changing relationships: Relationships after having a baby, and you will find some useful information on our supporting relationships with your partner page.
Dads can be impacted also
We know that having a new baby can impact on Dad’s emotional wellbeing also. In the current Covid-19 situation we have heard many dads are feeling a little disconnected from being able to ask health professionals questions about pregnancy and their baby in those early days. If you feel your mood has been impacted speak to your GP.
Here are some ideas for dads to support that bonding with your baby:
- Talk and respond to your baby – they will already recognise your voice from pregnancy and the early weeks.
- Skin to skin with Dad can have a huge impact on early brain development.
- Take time to just be with your baby – you are their new world they are just as curious to watch you as you are them.
Talking for you
Talking about how you are feeling helps you get through the exciting, yet challenging time of becoming a parent. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, but it is worth having someone in mind that you can trust and who can support you if needed. One of the first steps to getting better is knowing and accepting that you maybe unwell.
You may have mixed emotions about your pregnancy and your baby. This is completely normal.
Here are some common signs that you should talk through with your health visitor:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Being irritable/arguing more often
- Lack of concentration
- Change in appetite
- Problems sleeping or extreme energy
- Racing thoughts
- Feeling more anxious
- Lack of interest in usual things
Some women can also have:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Suicidal thoughts
- Strict rituals and obsessions
- Lack of feelings for their baby
It is important that you look after your own mental health so that you are well enough to care and enjoy your baby. Think about the suggestions below that may help you to consider how you can cope. Some of these may be more difficult to achieve in light of Covid-19, so you may need to be more creative in how you achieve this.
Ways to cope:
- Talking to someone I trust about how I feel, such as a parent, sibling, partner or trusted friend
- Talking to my midwife or health visitor about how I feel
- Keeping active
- Having a healthy diet
- Finding out about different ways to relax, such as yoga, meditation
- Asking for help with things at home, like chores and babysitting
- Asking for support if I am worried about my baby
- Finding out about how to change my thinking patterns
- Discussing the possibility of counselling or medication with my GP
- Keeping a journal of my feelings through pregnancy and beyond.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
- During the past month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
Generalised Anxiety Disorder Scale Identification (GAD-2)
- During the last 2 weeks have you been feeling nervous, anxious or on edge?
- During the last 2 weeks have you not been able to stop or control worrying?
If you answer yes to any of the questions and want support, then please contact your Health Visitor.
Where can I get help?
Your GP or Health visitor can signpost you to additional support via the perinatal mental health team if needed. Equally you can refer yourself to TALKWORKS our free NHS talking service in Devon who prioritise parents.
Have your say
Help us improve the local information on this website and give us feedback about any contacts you have had with our service by completing the Devon Public Health Nursing feedback form.