Having a baby is usually expected to be a joyful experience, so it can come as a shock if you don’t feel that way. Difficulties with low mood are more common than most people realise: about one in ten new mums are affected, and many don’t tell anyone about how they are feeling. The signs vary, but can include feeling sad, guilty, anxious, irritable, losing motivation, problems concentrating, and changes in appetite. These can persist for a couple of years or more.
Although the causes of post-natal low mood are unclear, hormonal changes, disturbed sleep, and changes in role or identity may be involved. Life after birth is often very different from life before, and many parents find it difficult to adjust to this. However, because we rarely talk about how tough it can be, mums may feel guilty or think they are the only ones finding it hard. Comparing ourselves with others can also make things worse, as we notice people who seem to be coping better than us, and forget that they struggle sometimes too.
Fortunately, help is available. Outlook South West run free “Finding Yourself Again” groups especially for mums with a child under three. These are an opportunity to meet with other mums experiencing similar difficulties, and to explore ways of managing the competing demands of motherhood and improve your mood. You can self-refer to these groups, without the need to go via a GP or health professional. You simply call (01208) 871905 or visit www.outlooksw.co.uk for more information.