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"I will never forget the feeling of hopelessness in those early days with my son."

Sydney mum Claire Wootton will always remember the desperation that followed the birth of her first child.

The corporate events manager had prepared for labour and birth, but was blindsided by the “overwhelming” postnatal depression she experienced after her son was born.

For months, Claire struggled with breastfeeding and being far away from her family as well as the everyday, daunting task of caring for a tiny baby.

Claire Wootton with Lewis, 6, and Dashiell, 3. Image courtesy of Verve Portraits.

Eventually, she was taken to a doctor by her father and husband. And after seeing a psychiatrist and commencing treatment, she was finally able to enjoy motherhood, four months in.

Today, she’s a proud and happy mum to Lewis, now six, and Dashiell, three. She’s currently pregnant with her third child, but she’ll always remember her struggle with postnatal depression.

“I will never forget the fear, frustration and feeling of hopelessness I felt in those early days with my son. It was without a doubt the hardest time of my life,” she said.

"It was without a doubt the hardest time of my life.” Image via iStock.
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“I felt like I was really prepared to have a baby. I read all the right books and I did the right things. I knew what to expect from labour and birth – but I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my emotions and my relationship.

“It left me feeling so shocked. People say motherhood is hard but there is still pressure from society that those first few weeks will be special and beautiful and natural, but for me they were none of those things.”

Now, Claire is drawing on her own struggles with postnatal depression to help other women. Later this month, she will host Mother Conference, an event featuring experts and guest speakers designed to empower new mums.

While she credits celebrities like Jessica Rowe for speaking publicly about postnatal depression, she says there was still a stigma and “an element of shame” attached to postnatal depression which needed to end.

Wootton credits celebrities like Jessica Rowe for speaking publicly about postnatal depression.

She offered some helpful advice for all mums to be and reassured them that it was normal to find motherhood tough at first.

"Regardless of whether the baby is much longed for or a surprise, those first few months with a newborn are tough, scary and lonely," she says.

"The best advice I can give is before your baby arrives, start assembling your village. Tell people you are going to need help and meals and support and have people on standby. It does still take a village; you can’t do it all by yourself."

It's advice we can't hear often enough.

Mother Conference will be held at The Concert Hall in Chatswood, Sydney on Friday, October 16 from 9am-5pm. For details, visit the website, email [email protected] or call 0403 818 560.

Have you ever struggled with postnatal depression? How did you get help?

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