As a postnatal personal trainer, mum and baby fitness instructor, and a mum of two myself, I know first-hand that the lack of sleep, anxiety of being a mother to a newborn, the isolation and loneliness, and the loss of a sense of self can all take its toll on a mother’s mental health.
Postnatal depression can come in various forms and very often will be suffered in silence as mothers are left with a sense of shame that they’re not feeling the way the world is telling them they should feel.
I remember when I was finishing up work for maternity leave with my youngest and received a card from a class member. Not a ‘you’re having a baby’ card, but a ‘thank you’ card, telling me that my classes had helped her get through a really difficult period in her life.
She’d been suffering from postnatal depression and hadn’t exercised in 18 months prior to starting up with me and eventually doing three of my classes a week. Not only had they helped her to establish a routine, but the classes also enabled her to meet other mums and feel fitter, stronger and better about herself.
Shockingly, postnatal depression affects more than 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth, and some even experience it throughout their pregnancy as well. Of course, many mothers have experienced the typical baby blues, which can last for the first two weeks or so, but we may be unaware of the grasp that the full-blown condition can have on mothers and how consuming and debilitating living with the condition can be.
I am grateful that this particular mum had the bravery to open up about her inner battle, as I know this is sadly not the case for many. It serves as a reminder that you don’t always know what’s lying beneath the surface and to always be kind and supportive of others.
You may never know the positive impact you might be having on another just by being there, whether that’s offering your support or simply by having a cheery and upbeat attitude to raise a smile.