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'I thought I needed help for my daughter, but I was the one struggling'

2020-06-22

Reprinted from Kidspot, June 18, 2020 | As told to Jenna Martin

https://bit.ly/KKidspot

"People often ask about our babies, but rarely do they ask about us mums and how we’re doing... I was trying to hold it together but I was slowly and silently crumbling."

Having raised one child already (my now 5-year-old son), I thought baby number two would be a breeze.

Little did I know the new and unexpected difficulties I was facing with my daughter would actually be a reflection of my own internal challenges… I had no idea I was suffering from postnatal depression.

Like so many mums, I was experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, sleep and settling with my second baby. Normally, I’d stick it out, having done so with my first child, but this time around I was really struggling. My recovery from birth was slow and painful and I could feel myself crumbling under pressure.

One afternoon I was walking through my local shopping centre (Westfield Bondi Junction) and happened to pass by the Karitane early parenting store. I am so glad I chose to walk in that day because otherwise, I don’t know where I would be today, or what story I’d be telling.

From the moment I entered, I felt immediately cared-for and looked-after. I told them I was having sleepless nights, my five-year-old son had just started school and my husband had started a new job so was working long hours. I was trying my best to hold it all together, but I was overwhelmed and slowly and silently crumbling – it was scary.

They recommended I speak to someone, but I was hesitant… I worried about the associated costs of a psychologist. The nurse, however, mentioned it would be free of charge. I couldn’t believe it – I had no idea such services could be provided at no cost! How had I not heard of this before?

Admittedly I was unsure about meeting with the psychologist because I thought I needed help for my daughter, not me, but she was warm, welcoming, supportive, and just amazing.

She asked me questions about me – people often ask about our babies, but rarely do they ask about us mums and how we’re doing – and it wasn’t long before she helped me discover I was suffering from postnatal depression. It was clear as day and yet I’d never suspected it, mostly because it wasn’t something I had ever faced before – any sort of depression, really.

Sure, with my first baby I was tired and overwhelmed but this was different. I was at my limit. She helped me unravel my feelings and gave me helpful strategies to build my foundations in the right direction. Once I had my own self sorted, I could better help my daughter.

I also managed to get some much-needed help with my daughter’s sleep issues. Having had one child already I thought I knew it all but I was able to learn the best settling techniques, understand my baby’s tired cues, how to wrap her, establish a routine before bed and even get tips about room temperature. It was a full-circle spectrum of support that I initially didn’t even know I needed, in order for my second journey into motherhood to get better.

The most important thing I learnt through my PND journey was that I needed to look after myself too. I was so busy looking after my family and putting myself last... if at all. I needed to look after me first, so I could take care of everyone and everything else.

What I went through was awful. I used to feel weak, guilty, lonely, and hopeless. But, with the support and guidance from Karitane - as well as my family and friends - I am back to my happy self again. In fact, I am now stronger and more confident in myself than ever before – I feel like I’m a better person.

And to be honest, the more I open up about my story, the more I hear from other mums and dads with similar stories. Postnatal depression is far more common than we think, and it’s OK, because it’s damn hard being a parent sometimes and it’s OK to ask for help. Speak to someone – a GP, a professional, even a friend. You are not alone.

Karitane supports new parents with challenges such as sleep and settling, establishing routines, feeding and nutrition, toddler behaviour and pre and postnatal anxiety and depression. Karitane is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity supported by the NSW Ministry of Health. 

As a result of COVID-19, Karitane transitioned 100 percent of its services into digital platforms, so as to continue to support families during these challenging times. As COVID-19 puts increased pressure on the health system Karitane do not require a referral from a GP or health professional, access is easier than ever as parents can self-refer online. For more information, visit their website

Karitane is just one of a number of sleep schools across Australia that are fully or partly covered by medicare. If you need help, check what options are available in your state. Your GP or local community health centre is always a good first port of call.

Reprinted from Kidspot, June 18, 2020 | As told to Jenna Martin

Read Kelly’s full story here; https://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/parenthood/mums/i-thought-i-needed-help-for-my-daughter-but-i-was-the-one-struggling/news-story/e83ead9e87500f59b6cc1f886db37911

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