Post-natal depletion; sound at all familiar?
Are you suffering from tiredness, exhaustion, general all-round forgetfulness and feeling really emotional, with a poor memory…and did you have a baby in the past seven years? Well, you might have post-natal depletion.
You probably haven’t heard the term, but the symptoms could be REALLY familiar.
Post-natal depletion is a term newly coined by an Australian dcotor who thinks it’s a condition where the physical demands of pregnancy and growing a baby depletes so much from your body that, along with various factors of motherhood, basically means you’re worn down and ground out and not firing on all cylinders.
And if this sounds like it just applies to new mums then apparently, it is possible to suffer from it up to seven years *after* having a baby.
Do you think you might have it? I totally do! And I don’t know of many mums who wouldn’t identify with some or most of the symptoms.
I hadn’t heard of post-natal depletion until reading about it on here, of all places, and I’m not entirely sure of the truth of it, but it really, really struck a chord.
A few things I know about the post-natal period:
- It’s a ride on the emotional rollercoaster from ‘I’m so in love!’ to ‘Help! What do I do now? What if I break them?’
- Just when you start to get your head round everything your partner goes back to work and you then have to do everything one-handed. Some days all you manage is getting dressed (still a huge achievement)
- All the attention is on new mothers for about the first few weeks, then everything’s expected to be business as usual. When you finally get your head round all of that and start to enjoy it, you go back to work and there’s a whole load of other things to deal with, like childcare and work and fitting everything in
- Even years on it’s a tricky balance, especially when you throw other children into the mix and then there’s starting school along with all the general life stuff
- And even years on it’s still a battle to get dressed and a struggle to leave the house (the struggle is real!)
So post-natal depletion and the effects of pregnancy on your body aside, in short, the years after you have a baby are pretty tiring. There really isn’t much time to recover from childbirth and the early baby days and then very quickly there’s all of everything else, too. And when you have an endless ‘to do’ list, it’s easy to put yourself last.
(This isn’t any kind of a moan about mumlife, because my children are brilliant and magical and wonderfully weird in ways I could have never predicted and there are many highs to the general woes, but parenting can be exhausting, can’t it?)
A few things I know about motherhood:
- Most mums I know are pretty tired. Are you tired? My two-year-old still doesn’t sleep and I could pretty much nap standing up, on the spot
- But it’s not so much the broken sleep that’s tiring, it’s the day-to-day, with toddler wrangling and pram pushing and stair treks and school runs and park trips topped off with a sprinkling of mum guilt that is way more intensive than any gym workout
- Some days I’m on top of the world and others I’m a shadow of a person held together with endless cups of tea and ten sneaky biscuits, despite spending a small fortune on all the fruit I never eat
- And even two years after it’s passably, socially OK to blame things on baby brain I frequently forget things. Like whole conversations and the end of most sentences. And my own name. Awkward…
- Evenings are often a late finish because it’s the only time I have to get everything done. And, admittedly, because I’m as guilty as anyone of the pre-bed internet check of the entire internet, by which time it’s very late.
The Goop article suggests that to recover from post-natal depletion you should have better nutrition and a long detailed period of self-nurturing. And some sleep. Which is easier said than done when you can’t just swan off to a year-long spa break (more’s the pity! Why don’t more spas have childcare?)
Some more things I know about motherhood:
- It’s important to carve out time for yourself. Not the tired of cliche of ‘me time’ (which in advert terms seem to consist of having a bath with a yoghurt). But it’s important to have some amount of time to yourself and to do things that are important to you, even if those things involve doing nothing at all, or reading more books instead of the eternal iPhone scroll, note to self
- It’s really important not to be so hard on yourself. You’re probably doing a much better job than you think
- You should focus on what you do manage to juggle, rather than the balls you drop
- Oh, and mum guilt is annoying and ridiculous.
Post-natal depletion or not, I reckon I need to pay more attention to the above. And go to bed earlier, minus my phone. Who’s with me?