If you’ve recently given birth, or you’re pregnant right now, you’ll know it can be an emotional time. And you might be wondering if how you’re feeling is normal, or something you should seek extra support for. For our latest expert live chat for Supermushers, we invited Milli Hill, found of the Positive Birth Movement and author of Give Birth Like A Feminist, to chat about postnatal emotions, and we think you’ll agree that her advice is super-useful and supportive.

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Here are a few of Milli’s words of wisdom.

“All postnatal feelings are normal, and valid. It’s also a myth that if you have a brilliant positive birth you are always going to feel brilliant and positive, and if you have a difficult birth or even a traumatic birth, you are going to struggle. It’s not that simple, or that black and white.”

“A lot of how you feel about your birth hinges on how you were treated by the people who cared for you during labour. If you were kept informed during your birth, treated with kindness and empathy, listened to and consulted throughout, and generally felt ‘in control’, this normally helps a lot with processing the experience afterwards. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.”

“Sometimes, too, you might feel like you have unanswered questions about what happened to you, and it’s good to know that you can, if you wish, go back to your midwives and ask them to go over your notes with you. Your hospital may also have a special service that offers this ‘birth story listening’ opportunity. You can also talk over your birth with friends, partner, family, or even a trained counsellor. The story is important and it needs to be shared!”

“It’s worth saying too that all of these complex postnatal emotions about your birth are then mixed together with another huge set of emotions about being a mum and looking after a baby! Usually with added sleep deprivation. It can be very overwhelming, so take it slow and be kind to yourself.”

“Overall I think it’s vital that we get the message to women that they ‘matter’, and that their birth and what happened to them, ‘matters’. We are often told, ‘a healthy baby is all that matters’, and whilst we know that this is extremely important, it is not ALL that matters, is it?! You matter too. So how you felt during this momentous experience of bringing life into the world is extremely important – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”“Many women experience low mood or feel tearful on about day 3 or 4 after the birth, which is usually when your milk comes in. This is normal and will usually only last a few hours or a few days at most. For some women, however, this blue feeling may lift but then return with greater strength, or simply persist and worsen. If this happens you may have Post Natal Depression – around 1 in 10 women experience this during the first year of their baby’s life. Symptoms to look out for are:

– Always feeling sad or low and being unable to find the positives

– Not enjoying life or being interested in anything

– Feeling like you are not bonding with your baby, or interested in them

(however, you can be depressed and totally in love with your baby, too!)

– Feeling isolated from others, or not wanting to make contact with others

– Thoughts that worry you, for example, wanting to harm your baby (these are sometimes called ‘intrusive thoughts’)

If you notice any or all of the above, try to get some extra rest and support, and seek help and advice from your GP or health visitor, or from one of the PND charities or support networks.” 

A few great resources recommended by Milli:

The Positive Birth Movement

Action on Post Partum Psychosis

Association for Postnatal Illness

Pre and postnatal depression advice and support

Support for those with maternal OCD

Hosts of #PNDHour on Twitter

Mind

Make Birth Better

Birth Trauma Association

Twice a week we do live chats for Supermushers with an expert (and a few special guests you might have heard of) on the topics that are keeping you awake at night (sometimes literally…). Find out more and sign up here.