Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Pre-natal depression

Is this a thing?

Maybe it's a thing?

Please let it be a thing.  Because if it's not a thing, it's just me.  And somehow that makes it so much worse.

I'm not depressed.  I'm not someone who's depressed.  People who are depressed want to hurt themselves, or others.  They cry.

I don't feel like that.  I'm ok. I'm just tired. So tired and so sick.  It'd be ok if I could just stay in bed.  I don't know what I'm going to do if I get out of bed. How am I going to cope?  I've got the girls, and I can't think about what I'm going to do with them, what I'm going to feed them, what I'm going to say to them.

And then there's the washing, and the cooking, and the shopping. And I can't do it.  How can I do it? How have I ever been able to do it?

But it's ok. People keep telling me it's ok. People seem to think I should be happy.  Happy about this baby.  And they say that, and I paint on a smile, which I know can't look real, and I say "Yes, it's wonderful, I'm so happy".  And I know what they're really thinking.  Because it's what I'm thinking.  What my brain is screaming at me, every minute of every day.  How am I going to cope?  I can't cope with the three children I have, how on earth will I manage another one?  How can I be happy when I am failing already and all that's going to happen in eight months time is I'm going to fail more?  Fail harder.  Fail worse.

Go back to bed.  Hide.  Make it go away.


I don't feel like this.  I really don't.  But I did.  For all of October and some of November.  And then it passed.  And now I am happy.   Happy and bumpy and looking forward to feeling my baby move.  But I wasn't.  I really wasn't.  And I couldn't say.  I couldn't say because I didn't want people to think less of me.  To think that I had gone into this with my eyes closed. Or, more importantly, that I was bringing a baby into the world that wasn't wanted.  Because it is wanted, so much.

And is it a thing?  Am I the only person who feels like this in early pregnancy? Because this isn't the first time.  I felt like this with L too.  I upset B enormously because I gave him the impression that at eight or ten weeks pregnant I didn't want our much wanted, much adored first-born.  I caused him to question me, and us, and our decision to have this baby.  But it wasn't any of those things.  It was just so hard.  So hard getting through those first few weeks.  And so much harder trying to pretend to be happy when everyone wants and expects you to be happy and when all you can do is try desperately to hold it together and not scream; "I don't know if I want this. I don't think I can cope".

I've called this post Pre-Natal Depression, and in so doing I am not trying to undermine the real seriousness of Post-Natal Depression, but just to share how I felt, on the off-chance that although this isn't something we speak about, and it isn't something the medical profession recognises, and it isn't, maybe, as bad or as serious as proper PND, that is is a thing, and that I (and anyone else who has felt, or is feeling, like this) am not alone.


  1. Yes there is such a thing, it is a mential health condition, but it does exist and you can get help if it gets bad. You know how to talk find me if you need an impatial ear. The things I thought and felt are not for public consumtion, but I have been there

  2. I am sure it is normal to have lurching moments of panic in early pregnancy that you've maybe not done the right thing. Surely it's only to be expected when it's such a major life change. Even when it's number 4, I am sure you can't help but query how you will cope and whether the current equilibrium of family life will change unimaginably.

    But, there is no shame in seeing a doctor when things are bad and you feel like you aren't coping with the worry and feelings. I am glad you are feeling better and have got through this. Everything will be ok. (Just repeat that in your head a few million times)

  3. I got the blues in early pregnancy and again days before delivery, with both kids. Can't speak for other people, but from my very limited experience I'd say it's a thing. There's so much for your mind and body to process during pregnancy that it's not surprising for this to happen. For me it just passed within a few days.

  4. I've heard of people getting ante-natal depression. It's perfectly natural to have days of worry/anxiety about how you will cope, plus you have gazillions of hormones floating about.

    Glad you are feeling beter now though. Don't be afraid to let yourself have a little wobble every now and then, but know that you WILL be fine x

  5. Oh I'm only just catching up on your momentous news! Congratulations! (I've missed so much obviously).

    I'm sorry you've been feeling like this - it must be hard, frustrating and unsettling. I remember when I was pregnant the second time, something I'd longed for for years, all the joy and anticipation and elation got weighed down by the daily struggles and overwhelming tiredness and hormones and worries. It went eventually but it wasn't what I was expecting to feel.

    I'm glad you're feeling a bit better and keep hanging in there.

    Thank you for your sweet message on mine. I'm doing okay thanks. May return in the New Year.

  6. Mad Mummy - Well if it is known about why doesn't anyone mention it? Why do the pregnancy books tell you about nausea and piles and linea negra and never say "oh, and you might feel utterly miserable and wish you'd never got pregnant, but don't worry, it's your hormones and it will pass"? I'm sorry you felt it too and thank you for the offer of an ear. I'm honestly fine and over it now, I wouldn't (and couldn't) have blogged about it if I wasn't. I was much too miserable to do anything at the time and more importantly wouldn't have wanted this baby ever to get the impression he or she wasn't much loved and wanted, which he/she is, despite what it felt like six weeks ago.

    Fiona - it wasn't so much the panic of not being able to cope and what have we done, to be honest I suspect we'll have that whenever there's a tantrum between now and when they're 40 or so, but more the inability to do or think or feel anything other than miserable. I think I would have mentioned it to the doctor, if I'd realised they might take me seriously, and I certainly meant to do so to the midwife, but she didn't ask and it wasn't the sort of thing you'd come out with. Surely (once again) if it's out there as something you might be feeling, they should be asking and we should know that it's something that we can and should talk about.

    ~Mama - thanks for the pre-delivery tip. I didn't feel that either time before but nice to have a heads up that I might this time. Like you, it has passed now, but it took about six weeks...

    Tiddlyompompom - "ante"! That's the word... Anyway, as you say (and as I thought in the middle of the night after posting this) it's not really surprising, what with the sickness and the exhaustion and the nausea, but I do wish it were openly acknowledged. You feel like you should be being happy and actually all you can feel is misery. A bit like "real" PND I suppose....

    Deer Baby - hello! Welcome back (ish). Hope the break has helped, and glad that it's been a real break. Thank you for the congratulations took which I can accept with genuine delight. As you say too, it's just not what you expect to feel and it makes you feel worse because you feel like you're already letting the baby you don't yet have down. As I say now, better now. For the moment....

  7. I think getting into a state in early pregancy is perfectly normal. Our hormones are all over the place and this certainly doesn't help. We like to think that because we're capable of carrying and nurturing a child, we are capable of anything. But we're only human. Extremely wonderfully human, but still..!! Those first few months are the worrying ones where we tend to fear the worst. I know I did. Take care, sweetie, and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

    CJ xx

  8. I completely think there is

    I have never enjoyed early pregnancy - I get really bad HG and throwing up everything you eat or drink or just because can really make you miserable. And tired. And unhappy.

    I've also had it later in pregnancy - with the problems with Littler the toll of continuous worry made me very introverted and depressed. I was lucky to have found friends through blogging who helped me through it

    I'm glad the worst has passed and you feel lighter - if it comes back, don't worry, you have company around if you want to talk

  9. Hello - I think that feeling down, to whatever a degree can strike at any time, and a part of this is a lack of energy/the will to want to do anything, I spent too long thinking I was just tired. Like the others here, I think that influences in pregnancy are bound to add to this, there's a fear there that we all share. I wish you lots and lots of love and hope that you can talk and talk and talk about how you feel with those closest to you who love you, I don't know you know whether PND always comes on *after* a birth so you have really made me think, but however you are feeling you deserve to be kind to yourself and not compare how you feel with how other people are perceived to be feeling and how "happy" being pregnant is supposed to make you feel, so many of us have an awful time and listening to reports told through rose tinted glasses or reading features about how marvellous it all is can make us feel worse. Good luck to you. xxx

  10. Thinking of you Plan B. Hormones are complicated things.

    S x

  11. Of course there is! And I recognise all the feelings you describe. You are not alone, and completely normal (in that one respect at least :-) ). It's the hormones, and the life change, and too much thinking... and the guilt is probably part of it. Also, it IS a lot to cope with, so it's only natural to wobble. I sure did. Still do. All the time. It's just a shame I won't admit to it either when I do. How ungrateful can a person be, right? It's not ungrateful, it's human.

    I will now step away from my pulpit and just send you a big hug. Remember - breathe. This too will pass.

  12. A couple of years ago, my depression suddenly got a lot worse. I was off work and my tablets got changed. Time went on and it gradually settled down - and then I found out I was pregnant, and actually had been for a while. The increase in my depression tallied fairly well with my son's conception. Hormones do these things, I guess.

  13. Totally felt this all three times. First time, I told my GP it was "fatigue and nausea", though it wasn't really. It was fatigue and fatigue and more fatigue and a horrible sense that life was wrong and couldn't be right. But I needed a sick note, so "fatigue and nausea" it was. At one point, I asked her "Am I normal? Is this a mental health issue?" She replied "Yes, this is normal for pregnancy. Unless there's something in your records I don't know about, or unless there's something you're not telling me, I don't think it's a mental health issue".

    With my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies, I found it much easier to cope with because I knew it would pass.

    I did try to ask for help. I phoned the NCT, and asked if they had any resources on depression in pregnancy. I got put through to the HQ librarian, who cheerily told me to join a local "bumps and babies" group, which would make me feel better. Of course I didn't.

    What I needed was a counsellor. What I got was long days lying in bed feeling hopeless and guilty. Pregnancy raises so many issues. I think depression in pregnancy is usually a symptom of other things. That's my guess, anyway. Whatever, it shouldn't be ignored.

    Well done to you for raising this issue. I think it is a very real one, a secret well hidden, as PND used to be. I thought the medical profession was getting better at recognising the issue, but perhaps I'm wrong. (My first pregnancy was 14 years ago.)

  14. If you feel it, then it's a "thing". That's all that counts. Pregnancy isn't all flowers and baby showers, especially the 2nd/3rd/4th time round. It is physically and emotionally tough. Really tough. So tired, so physically uncomfortable, so many ifs and buts.

    I'm glad you're feeling better, but if it happens again don't panic, it will too pass.


  15. I too had it. Big. For months. It came first trimester and disappeared halfway into the second. You are not alone, my dear.

  16. Late as always but thank you all so much for more wise words. The odd thing now is how, as Shannon says, it has "disappeared". I can't now, four months later even really remember, in the post-Christmas and pre-scan haze, how I felt without re-reading this post.

    I do think it's interesting though, as Linda and Iota say, that although the medical profession recognises and takes PND very seriously when it happens *after* pregnancy, maybe actually this is the same thing, just coming on early. I suppose the same hormones are kicking around, just in different quantities (can you tell I'm not a scientist?)

    But as I say, better now, so thank you all for lovely support and kind words, and Muddling Along Mummy for reminding me that at the very least I could eat.... Didn't always want to, mind but it did tend to stay down. So in a rather Pollyannaish way, that's a good thing! (Can't imagine how miserable HG must be).

  17. I had the same issues with my first pregnancy and I did not know it was called anything or that it was a 'thing'. I also called it pre-natal depression. For me it also turned into post-natal depression.
    Nice to hear others experiences. People need to speak up more, I never thought that my pre-natal emotional roller coaster was normal, I thought it was just me.....
    Thank you

  18. Mich - thank you for the comment, for following, and for the warning (even if it wasn't intended as such) about more of the same to come. With two weeks to go (or thereabouts) I'm starting to realise there will be a life after this baby and I need to make sure that I stay balanced (or as balanced as possible). Thank you too for sharing your experience. I think it's more common than people admit...


I know. I'm sorry. I hate these word recognition, are you a robot, guff things too, but having just got rid of a large number of ungrammatical and poorly spelt adverts for all sorts of things I don't want, and especially don't want on my blog, I'm hoping that this will mean that only lovely people, of the actually a person variety, will comment.

So please do. Comments are great...