"How am I going to do this? I am going to be the worst mother. I can't do this. I won't be able to deal. My life is over. Why am I so selfish? Why am I not grateful? So many people struggle to conceive and yet I struggle to appreciate it? I so do not deserve this baby. I do not deserve to be a mother. "
Have any of those thoughts ever crossed your mind? I will be the first to admit that it did cross my mind when I was pregnant. Actually, it happened to me on most days. I had Antenatal depression.
So many emphasis has been placed on Postnatal depression that sometimes, people forget that our hormones, our emotions, our life start to change from the moment we find out we are pregnant. Before I go on, I would like to make it very clear that I was so grateful, in fact I was over the moon when I found out I was pregnant - I knew how lucky I was. In that year, I saw so many beautiful friends go through miscarriages and fertility issues that I was and I am forever grateful to get to be a mother.
Unfortunately, something changed in my second trimester. I started to feel exhausted, overwhelmed and generally anxious. My heart palpated when I was going to bed, I felt so alone, I felt like when I tried to talk - no one understood me. I didn't know how to express that I was happy to be a mum and I was so excited but I didn't know why I felt so down. I started to feel frustrated when I couldn't express myself to people, I kept to myself and started doubting myself. I felt that because I didn't and couldn't enjoy my pregnancy as much as I wanted to, I didn't deserve to be a mum. I felt guilty for feeling how I felt. It didn't seem fair to give me motherhood when I couldn't even make myself appreciate life in general. Looking in on myself, it was perfect. It IS perfect - a great partner, a new home, and a supportive family with a baby on the way. I mean A BABY! I was jumping up and down screaming with happiness when I found out I was pregnant. But what happened???!
Antenatal depression or also known as Prenatal depression is very real. It robs us mothers who suffer from it of the joy, happiness, excitement and anticipation of pregnancy that other mothers feel. It is more common than we think, about 1 in 8 women suffer from Antenatal depression - the degree of it is varied. What I had was not mild, I had thoughts that I did not want to be here. I was so scared. But you know what, I got through it and you can too.
One thing I know for sure and wish I knew was that IT IS TOTALLY OK to feel this way. Not only does our body goes through some MAJOR changes -a big part of pregnancy is our hormones rising and rising, making our emotions a massive rollercoaster - then add the life changing choices and making life plans to the situation. Where will be live? How will we afford a baby? and just as you are about to answer those questions, someone else tells you how to raise YOUR baby or what you should or should not do during pregnancy, birth and parenting. I mean it is not hard to become overwhelmed and anxious with all this going on - right?
For many mums who suffer Antenatal depression go on to develop P
ostnatal depression after baby is born but some also do not. I was fortunate enough to be better by the time my baby was worn. Nevertheless it was a scary thought, worrying about feeling like that again but for all I know, the moment I saw my daugher's face the first time, I knew that I had to do everything in my power to be the best mother I can be. To protect her and love her with all I have and I am sure every mother wants that so please know that if you suffer from antenatal or postnatal depression, there is light at the end even though it may not seem like it now. Family support and help from services available will help you through this.
If you are reading this and can relate, please do not feel embarrassed to ask for help and do something nice for yourself often. Relax your mind. I am a BIG advocate for Yoga for helping me through this. I started prenatal yoga and started to notice a difference, where I could appreciate and be present in the moment. It taught me to stop my thoughts and manage them better. It was unfortunate that Maternal Mental Health couldn't have me in their system until AFTER I had my baby but by that time I had gotten better. The referral process can be long, so please ask for help as soon as you can. Talk to someone, it may be more common than you think. Tell your midwife, your GP or obstetrician how you are feeling and they can refer you on. Treatment given is depended on individual needs.
I got through it and YOU CAN too.