Today is world mental health day and I wanted to write something because as parents mental health is very important and often pushed to it’s limits. Post natal depression is reported to affect around 20% of all women with the exact number believed to be much higher due to under reporting. There are many reasons behind under reporting, but I believe that one of the ways to tackle this is to talk openly about mental health. The more examples a parent can read, reassuring them that it is normal and they are not alone, perhaps the more likely they are to get help. After all, parenting is unbelievably hard!
First-time parents are suddenly thrown into a whole new world where the most important job you have is looking after a small human but there is no instruction manual, it is just 100% down to you. This small person may not sleep, may not feed easily, demands all of your time and attention. Your friends might not have children and becoming a parent can be very isolating. Children’s centres are being closed down with yet more set to be shut over the next year and increasingly the ability to meet other new parents is becoming harder – when it should be made much easier. Having multiple children can be just as isolating as it can be less stressful to stay at home where the toddler wont run away, or where you can have some control over the small hurricanes which are set to destroy anything in their path leaving behind a trail of crumbs and sticky handprints.
But – it is ever so important to get out there, to make friends and to leave the house and be active. Spend time in nature, talk to others, and find a community. All of these things are proven to help mental health. We are not meant to raise children alone; humans thrive in a community and increasingly the western world is making this harder. This is where babywearing can be a life saver.
We recently ran a giveaway for International Babywearing Week and asked entrants to comment on the post, finishing the sentence ‘Babywearing has…’. The amount of comments ending ‘…saved my mental health’ or ‘…helped me make friends’ or ‘…kept me active’ is just testament to how important babywearing can be. There is a great post here on the Sheffield Sling Surgery’s page which goes into more detail if you’d like to read further.
Babywearing certainly helped me survive the first year after my second child was born. We lived away from family and friends having moved when I was pregnant. My partner went back to work the day after I gave birth and I was suddenly very alone. Whilst I believed I’d ‘got this’, eventually the endless days of laying on the sofa with my baby who would cry if I so much as moved a few inches away, became too much. I didn’t have any visits from a heath visitor as she deemed me ok on her first visit and I did nothing to suggest otherwise, I never spoke out, never asked for help. It wasn’t until I sought out a new sling did things start to improve – joining Facebook groups and spending those long hours breastfeeding chatting to other mums about woven wraps and eventually finding the community I so desperately needed. Some of the women I met through slings have become the best friends someone could ever ask for.
If you are feeling down and it is stopping you doing the things you normally do, get help. Reach out, talk to a friend, a family member or make an appointment with a health care professional. Don’t suffer alone. If you know someone who has recently become a parent, speak to them. Go seem them. Drop them a message and let them know you are thinking of them and even if they cancel a million times, keep arranging to meet because one day they will make it and you might just be what they needed to get through that day.
x L x