As a new mum, it’s completely normal to feel like you’re losing your shit on a daily basis.
Working with new mums on a daily basis, I hear very similar stories. Many mums are worried they are experiencing postnatal depression or have been diagnosed as “likely” to be suffering from PND.
I need to bring to light the similarities between extreme fatigue and PND. I want new mums to consider the possibility that they aren’t clinically depressed just because they tick the boxes and relate to the symptoms or diagnosis. As a new mum, it’s completely normal to feel like you’re losing your shit on a daily basis.
When our boys were about 3 months old, my husband completed a fatigue management course at work. That afternoon he came home and told me that existing in a state of dangerous extreme fatigue is classified as having had 4 consecutive nights of less than 4 hours of sleep.
Okay Mamas- hands up who would have killed for 4 hours straight sleep?!
Something clicked for me when I heard this information. No wonder I’m not coping- how can I be?! I’ve gone for 3 months straight without sleep! Sure, I’ve napped in between feeds,cries and visitors but those naps always included at least one baby under my arm (usually two) and never for longer than 3 hours. In fact a 3 hour sleep would have been a major victory.
You know those sleeps where you aren’t entirely sure you slept? You don’t reach that lovely level of unconsciousness, you remain semi alert, hearing cries that may or may not be real and your anxiety escalates at the prospect of being awoken by a screaming baby at any minute.
Yeahhhh those sleeps. Bless em'.
They don't count. It's like putting your iPhone next to the charger without plugging it in and expecting it to be 100% in an hour or two.
Like babies we need both REM and NON REM sleep to function, for our physical and mental development. Without meeting our sleep needs, we have no hope of functioning at an optimal level.
If you aren't sleeping well then I'm betting you aren't making great food choices and you're sure as hell not exercising. Sleep, nutrition and movement are all crucial to happiness and health.
So take away the 3 elements you need for good health and throw in a tiny human (or two or three or holy mother of Jesus do I dare say it- four!) that you are responsible for. While you're there throw in a possibly traumatic labour, loss of job, and voilà ! You've got a whole arsenal of potential PND symptoms presenting themselves.
You are emotional- lots of tears, or maybe no tears, and you feel numb all the time. You can't focus, concentrate or remember a damn thing. Your mood is low, your appetite is low, everything aches and your eyes burn, headaches are so regular you actually don't notice them anymore.