Fact sheet: The rollercoaster of new motherhood

From the Centre for Community Child Health

All new mums experience a rollercoaster after giving birth to a baby. It's normal to feel joy and celebrate your new baby, but it's also normal to feel exhausted, shocked and sad. Having a baby is a time of enormous change and many people will struggle with the experiences of loss of freedom, the end or suspension of your work identity and the impact on financial independence and your social life.

Young woman cradling phone in one hand, and holding infant with other arm.

The experience of new motherhood is, for many mothers, not necessarily what you expected. If feelings of sadness persist, they are a reason to seek help from a professional to get you back on track and give you and your baby the best possible start.

There are things that you can do to help you adjust to the big changes that come with new parenthood:

  • Make an effort to have 'independent time', away from the baby, to help you adjust to the changes that are part of new parenthood. Seek help from others- parents, friends, your partner- to care for your baby while you take this time.
  • Make time for your relationship with your partner. Take the time to talk together about how your days went, how you are feeling and any concerns you have.
  • Make time to enjoy couple-time together.
  • Maintain relationships with friends and family. These relationships can play a really important role in giving you and your partner the support you need.
  • Take care of yourself. Regular exercise, healthy eating and good sleep are really important parts of maintaining good mental health.
  • Give yourself time to adjust. You're not expected to know everything about being a parent on day one and giving yourself a break is an important part of learning to cope.

It's normal to feel down, anxious or worried when you have a new baby. If these feelings persist and start to interfere with your normal life, it's time to act. As a first step, talk to your child and family health nurse about getting some extra help. You can work out a plan together with your nurse to find out what will work best for you.

Visit the Post and Antenatal Depression Association website for detailed fact sheets on care in all areas of ante- and postnatal depression and adjusting to the challenges of new parenthood.

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