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"I felt alone and numb and I didn’t feel like I lived up to the expectations of a new mother."

By KYLIE BROWN

Suffering from Post Natal Depression (PND) was something I thought would never happen to me. But after experiencing a traumatic birth and a previous period of depression, PND hit me in a way that I did not expect. I was dizzy and nauseous everyday. I felt like I was on a boat, rocking side to side when I was doing the house work and often having to hold onto the wall when I walked down the hallway because I thought my legs would give way or I would faint. This unsteady feeling scared me most when I was carrying around my baby girl Olivia. The thought of falling over while she was in my arms was terrifying. As her mum, I was there to protect her, and to think I could accidentally harm her was an awful, guilt-ridden feeling. All I wanted to do was sleep. And if Olivia woke me up I would almost feel angry at her. I constantly questioned everything I was doing and consulted Google like most do when they want answers but found myself more overwhelmed. I didn’t have that feeling that every woman talks about with their newborn. I felt alone and numb and I didn’t feel like I lived up to the expectations of a new mother.

I battled through this illness daily for 18 months before finally seeking help. The constant hormones and emotional changes in my body made me feel like I was losing my mind. I broke down in my doctor’s office and pleaded for a fix. Like many women who have experienced PND I felt like a failure. I felt like I wasn’t fit to be a mother when that was all I had ever wanted to be. I felt like I was giving up but I was completely exhausted and had no other options. Exhausted from acting everyday, putting on a front of a happy, healthy mum who loved everything about motherhood. When in actual fact it was nothing like I expected. At breaking point I felt so detached that it felt like I was watching myself from afar. I wasn’t connected to my body or my baby.

Thankfully after finally “giving in” I was diagnosed with PND and I received the right help and tools to help self-manage if the symptoms arose. I knew I wanted more children but I was worried that PND would return.

I will always remember what my doctor said to me “beside yourself is exactly that. When someone is beside themselves they are not in their body, you need to take the time to slow down and reconnect with yourself.” This was where my journey with Mindfulness Meditation began. My doctor would make me practice belly breathing and take all my attention to my toes and focus on every part of my body, one at a time. This formed the healing process for me reconnecting my mind with my body and my baby.

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Prevention comes down to education so these small tools became part of my healing process and enabled me to identify the feelings of PND before they became too unmanageable with my second and third pregnancies.

While life is extremely busy with three kids under five, I know the importance of listening to my mind and body and taking those five minutes a day to practice Mindfulness Meditation; be in the moment and reconnect with myself. Mind the Bump is such a wonderful resource and tool for mums and dads from day 1 of pregnancy through to 24 months and the beauty of the App is that it is in your back pocket whenever you need.

Kylie with her husband Jonathan and their kids.

Dr. Diana Korevaar is a psychiatrist and co-wrote Mind the Bump. She shares her expertise on the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation and how easy it is to use every through the App.

“Having a baby is often associated with big expectations and as a result the mind often races with questions. Mindfulness practices help quieten the mind and help us find stability by connecting our minds with our bodies and by turning our attention to the outside world.”

By learning to connect to sensations in the body, we pick up signs of emotional change much earlier than when our awareness is caught up in a process of thinking. Mind the Bump addresses these changes with Meditations titled “Changing Identity” “Letting Go” and “Acceptance.”

To a stressed and irritable mother, a crying baby can be very provocative – deep down the mother may feel this is evidence that she is not a good mother, or that people are not helping her enough. She can end up feeling alone and quite literally out of tune with her baby and those around her.

Using skills of mindfulness can help when  depression, anxiety or other emotional disorders arise, and there is scientific evidence that supports their usefulness in treating such disorders and preventing relapse.

Mind the Bump launches on November 17th to coincide with Post Natal Depression Awareness Week. The App is free and can be downloaded at the App Store, Google Play or visit www.mindthebump.org.au for more.

Read more from Kylie Brown on her website.

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