What happens when we don’t meet society’s expectations?

Stressed Woman.jpg

Let me explain more. In our lives there are just a few activities that seem to invite family and friends (and sometimes people we don’t even know) in to our lives - with or without invitation. We’re expected to accept this way of behaving, whether we like it or not. 

So what are these events? Probably quite a few - but I would suggest birth, marriage and death are way up there in the list of “open house” in to our lives.

Becoming pregnant is expected to be one of the most joyous occasions of our lives. The celebration of an ability to grow and develop a baby from a union of love, or is it? 

For some becoming pregnant can be quite the opposite, it can be both physically and emotionally challenging. A pregnancy changes our lives in a ways that we hadn’t even considered or imagined. Family and friends are excited for us and it can often feel that well meaning people can become intrusive, asking questions, which can feel quite personal.

And the story telling! Stories of personal experiences. Ones we are too polite to say that we’d rather not know about.

It’s important not to forget about our significant others – 1:10 partners develop a mental health issue related to becoming a parent.

Becoming pregnant, giving birth and taking baby home, can be quite a challenging time. For some it really is a wonderful joyous time, welcoming all the questions and the readiness people have around us to touch our “bump” to feel the baby move.

But what if we don’t? What if we don’t instantly bond with our baby when they are born? How do you know what’s going on? What to look out for:

Baby Blues

Baby blues are very common and usually occurs 2 to 4 days after having a baby. You may feel very emotional and liable to burst in to tears, for no apparent reason, having feelings of anxiety and tiredness. The baby blues only last a few days and are due to hormonal changes.

Postnatal Depression (PND)

PND is fairly common, occurring 1:10 mothers, often when the baby is just a few months old, although it can develop at any time in the first year. It can come on gradually or all of a sudden. It can be mild or quite hard-hitting. No one really knows what triggers it. 

There is a suggestion that you are more likely to develop PND:

  • If you have a previous mental health problems, including depression.

  • Depression or anxiety during pregnancy.

  • Poor support from partner, family or friends – or marital difficulties. 

  • A recent stressful event - e.g. death of someone close to you, relationship ending, losing a job.

  • Experienced domestic violence or previous abuse.

  • Arrived in a developed country as a refugee or to seek asylum.

A roller coaster of hormone levels affects our emotions and how we respond to different situations. But it’s important not to forget there has been, a complete change in life style and environment. Becoming a mother involves many losses, not only freedom but also, income and a sense of who you are. Even simple tasks of going out in the car or going on the bus can feel completely over whelming or remembering to talk to the plumber!

Sadly it is not always recognised and mothers are left to suffer in silence, because the problem is not diagnosed.

There are many symptoms and it is unlikely that you will experience all of them. Some mothers feel that they cannot cope, feelings of inadequacy as a mother and the inability to cope with their newborn baby. Some mothers feel very lethargic and tired, taking very little interest in the outside world. Emotions can become very intense, sadness, anger, anxiety, fear and panic, experiencing panic attacks, which often present with physical symptoms – rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and feelings of sickness and faintness.

But do remember it’s worth having a physical check up, an under-active thyroid and low B12 levels can have very similar symptoms.

Puerperal Psychosis

This is a serious psychiatric illness, occurring in 1:1000 new mothers; it usually starts quite suddenly a few weeks after birth, requiring treatment under psychiatric care. The mother becomes very restless, excited or elated and unable to sleep. She may be confused and disorientated, finding it difficult to relate to the world around her. Her behavior becomes increasingly bizarre and disturbing to people around her. 

What Next?

Talk to someone. Midwife, Health Visitor or GP. Don’t sit in silence, you aren’t the first to feel like this and sadly you won’t be the last. You are not alone. There is help out there, just ask.


You matter. You are important.


Baby Buddy / Best Beginnings (www.bestbeginnings.org.uk)

The Birth Trauma Association (www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk)

PANDAS Foundation (www.pandasfoundation.org.uk)

Netmums (www.netmums.com)