post natal depression

Do you want to know one the main things I was obsessed with when I was pregnant?

Post Natal Depression or PND.

When I think back to my darkest days, I could barely keep myself going. The thought of being in that state AND responsible for a little human being was enough to make me take this seriously. I think it’s something that all pregnant peeps should take seriously.

According to the World Health Organisation, up to 20% of mothers experience clinical depression after birth. That is the kind statistic that you can’t brush off with “oh it won’t happen to me”.

Having already wrestled with depression, anxiety and then tokophobia, I figured I’d be at risk. When I looked into it I was right.

Risk Factors of Post Natal Depression

In case you don’t know, here are some of the risk factors for Post Natal Depression;

  • Personal history of anxiety or depression
  • Birth trauma
  • Difficult pregnancy
  • Birth disappointment
  • Previous pregnancy loss
  • Financial or relationship difficulties
  • Stressful life events

Sounds like most of us, right?

Well, a quick glance through that list confirmed my worst fears. I was at risk.

And that was before I had even given birth.

It was clear from that list, that if my birth went all wrong, then I was even more at risk.

Our attitude and approach to birth can have an effect too

But it wasn’t just the birth experience itself that could affect me. My attitude and approach to my birth could have an effect too.

When I looked at the risk factors I realised that it was not all hopeless. I *could* do something about this. I could try and protect myself against getting post natal depression. I knew it wouldn’t be guaranteed, but I had to try.

I was determined to do whatever I could to reduce my risk of Post Natal Depression (PND).

The thought of NOT trying and then something happening was enough to motivate me. I couldn’t bare the idea of a life of regret of me thinking “if only I had done more”. When you do your best, you know you’re doing your best and you don’t kick yourself as much.

So, I decided to start with the easiest one: birth disappointment

I say ‘easy’ because compared to the others – like solving relationship or financial problems – it felt much easier.

My attempt to reduce my risk of Post Natal Depression

I made sure that when I prepared for birth that I prepared for not getting what I wanted. Too many expectant parents leave this bit out.

This is why it’s an essential step in my Birth Prep Classes.

My Birth Prep Classes online course takes you through my 9 Essential Steps of Birth Preparation. Step 7 is all about preparing for the birth you DON’T want. If you want to find out what the other steps are you can sign up for my free download here

Preparing for birth disappointment is more than just simply packing a hospital bag if you’re planning a home birth. For me preparing for birth disappointment has two important aspects;

  1. Practical
  2. Emotional

Getting practical about it

The practical element of preparation can be fairly straightforward. It can be as simple as ensuring you have a birth plan for other birth outcomes and that you’ve thought them through.

My Birth Prep Classes walks you through all this to ensure you feel as prepared as possible for all birth outcomes from a practical perspective.

If you want to read about how you emotionally prepare for birth disappointment then read this.

My obsession with Post Natal Depression is one that I was grateful for. In seeking our information about it, I learned so much. But it also guided me in my own birth prep.

All the preparation that I did for my births was focussed on mindset. I did very little reading around pregnancy from a practical perspective.

I was pretty clear on the kind of birth I wanted: a birth that I felt positively about. How I got there was less relevant. Of course, I had preferences – a home birth – but I didn’t want a traumatic home birth. So it wasn’t a home birth, at whatever cost.

For me, focusing on how I felt about my birth would help me to feel that I had done my best to protect my longer term mental health and happiness. This is what would help me to be a good mother.

Birth is a mindset event. If you focus on your mindset, then you can come out smiling. And that’s what I want for every new mother, YOU included!

Having a new baby is so precious and wonderful. Hard work too! The last thing you want is something like Post Natal Depression to get in your way.

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Alexia Leachman

Alexia is the host of the Fear Free Childbirth podcast and the author of Fearless Birthing, Childbirth, Midwifery & the Media, and Clear Your Head Trash.

Alexia supports families planning pregnancy and birth. She helps them to overcome their fears and feel calm and confident about birth and pregnancy.

Alexia also trains birth professionals in the Fearless Birthing, a unique approach to birth preparation that is ideal for those who have fears around birth.
Alexia Leachman
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