“I Had Postnatal Depression In The Months After My Baby Was Born”
“I had postnatal depression.” Lisa Raleigh, wellness coach – @LisaRaleigh – opens up about what it felt like…
“Although I absolutely love being a mother, the first year was tough for me. I suffered from postnatal depression in the first six months, mostly due to the fact that I was unprepared and had no idea what pregnancy and motherhood entailed. I fell pregnant while on the Pill, so finding out was a shock and, because I found out so late (at 11 weeks!) and had my daughter, Bella, early, in my mind, I was only pregnant for six months! As an A-type personality who likes to be in control, I was thrown in the deep end.
“Then, when Bella was six months old, we moved cities and got stuck into house renovations. I was breastfeeding on demand at the time and sometimes Bella would wake up six to eight times a night. She wouldn’t take a dummy or bottle and only wanted me, so I was exhausted. Things only started to turn around when we saw a sleep trainer – a massive turning point for me.
“My breasts ballooned… and then shrank”
“I gained quite a bit of weight during pregnancy and had water retention too, so it took a while for me to feel ‘myself’ again. During pregnancy, my breasts ballooned to literally four times their normal size – I had to change all my bras! But, because they expanded so much, they also shrank drastically after I stopped breastfeeding and they don’t look like they did before I fell pregnant – they’re much smaller now.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the lucky few who lost weight during breastfeeding. In fact, I was ravenous most of the time and had to eat a lot to ensure a steady milk supply. My body held onto the excess weight for a year and even though I started to regain my fitness and strength, it was only after I stopped breastfeeding at the 12-month mark that the weight started coming off. Up until that point, I didn’t put any pressure on myself to look a certain way and just enjoyed the stage I was in.
My body now
“Even though I’m close to my pre-pregnancy weight now (my daughter is two and a half), I still have some loose skin around my stomach that I never had before. This is something that’s taken a while to get used to, but once your skin stretches like that, it’s hard for it to regain its tightness. To this day, I still have numbness in one of my toes, which affects my balance. (I honestly think there was permanent nerve damage from the epidural.) I also still suffer from back pain now and then. However, the good news is, I am fitter and stronger now than I ever was before and I love my body – even with these changes.”
What I’ve learnt…
“Don’t be despondent if you don’t lose weight while breastfeeding. I was one of those, but the weight did come off eventually, with time and consistency.
“Your body needs good-quality, nutritious food to make good-quality breast milk. Try to stick to a healthy eating plan and don’t overindulge on junk food or think you have to eat for two – portion control is still important.
“Accept that your body has gone through drastic changes and might not ever be the same as it was before you had a baby, but that’s okay – different doesn’t mean worse!
“Invest in a rebounder (mini trampoline) – it saves time and money as two minutes of rebounding is equivalent to six minutes of jogging! You can train at home and it also helps with detoxing and water retention.
“Know that this too shall pass. As women, our bodies change all the time through different phases in life. The point is to love yourself and embrace your body no matter where you’re at!”