Content note: This article shouldn’t be substituted for professional medical and psychological advice.
The day I became a mother for the first time is still so deeply etched in my memory. That intoxicating newborn smell, the feel of his wispy hair on my chin, and those tiny fingernails on petite little hands.
Becoming a mum is amazing, right? Sure, taking your new baby home can be challenging, stressful, confronting and downright exhausting; but it is, still, an incredible and transformative experience.
But how is it for the more than one in seven women who suffer from postnatal depression and anxiety?
As a mama of three, surrounded by women who are getting married and having babies, I’ve had more than a few mum friends who have suffered through postnatal depression (PND). Having walked hand-in-hand with these friends, I know what an incredibly debilitating illness PND can be, and the way it can impact on a mum’s ability to find joy in her new bundle.
This awareness became even more compelling for me when I became qualified in teaching baby massage to parents. As I led courses with first-time mums around Canberra, I’d meet women who’d been diagnosed with PND and would tentatively confide in me the absolute struggle they found in caring for their baby.
What also became clear to me at such times, though, was the way that massage and loving touch positively impacted these women (as well as their babies). The result was invariably transformative. In one case, I met a mother who wasn’t even able to leave the house. We met for private sessions in her home and she told me she felt useless and not especially interested in her newborn baby.