PND It’s Not A Bonding Issue

You may still bond with your child even if you have postnatal depression. I felt completely bonded to my daughter but something still felt wrong with me.
Bonding With Baby
Photo: Sara Heidinger Photography

Brought to you by Bupa

Before becoming a mother, I thought postnatal depression looked like Brooke Shields on Oprah taking about how she didn’t want to hold her baby. I remember watching that episode and thinking, ‘How sad.’ The teenage me had not a single, flippin’ clue.

What I know now is that Postnatal depression is tricky and it looks different for everybody.

Fast forward from teen me to my personal postnatal nightmare. I obsessed over my daughter to the point where I imagined sending her into therapy for my neediness. It wasn’t all negative, there were moments of love and joy, so I couldn’t possibly have postnatal depression, could I?

In the background constant negative thoughts told me I was failing at Motherhood. That my child deserved someone who knew what to do, someone who wasn’t so miserable, someone who could get out of pyjamas and go for walks in the sunshine. My daughter deserved a Mother who liked herself.

PND and Bonding
Photo: Sara Heidinger Photography

As for the bonding thing? Let’s just make it irrelevant. I have plenty of friends without PND who didn’t bond with their babies immediately. I mean, those majestic pink newbies are technically total strangers so it’s understandable.

My personality is the only reason I bonded with my daughter. One look at my past and you’ll see a string of impulse puppy purchases and deadbeat boyfriends; “I know he doesn’t have a job and treats me bad but I looooooooove him.” (Don’t worry, I’ve learned my lesson.) Bonding schmonding, it was not an indication of my mental health.

Here is what I learned: If you suspect you need help, you do. Just like the old adage; if you suspect he’s cheating, he is. See, I have learned a thing or two!

The backbone of my recovery was support. It can come from a variety of different places, family, friends, babysitters, online communities and tools. Bupa has developed some new resources that can also help.

In partnership with industry leading researchers, specialists and Mums, mummatters can assess your emotional wellbeing and provide you with tips and resources. It even provides regular check-ins to see how you’re going. It’s personalised too- so you will get information relevant to your unique situation.

There’s something so valuable about getting a third party perspective on your emotional health. My husband wanted to suggest getting help but he had to walk on eggshells around my mood swings and didn’t want to make me feel any worse.

Another thing I love about this tool is that it’s confidential. I will never forget standing in my driveway (for privacy) and calling my MCH nurse. Our connection was crackly and she asked me to repeat myself until I practically shouted; “I think I’m depressed and I need help!” (In case any of my neighbours were wondering.)

Remember, PND can feel more like a rollercoaster of emotions than typical depression. There are high moments, which is why I think it’s so confusing to self-diagnose. You might not want to pick up your baby like Brooke Shields or you might never want to put her down. The only thing that matters is that you treat yourself with the same tender care that you would give your own child.

When you are ready for a hand Mama, it’s out there. You do not have to go through this alone.

If you or someone you love is suffering from Postnatal Depression or Anxiety please seek help.

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7 comments on “PND It’s Not A Bonding Issue”

  1. This is so good Dawn, we totally need to get this out into the open. I also love that you have explained how post natal depression doesn't always just look one way. So important. I think this is a fantastic resource. So good.

  2. I had no idea not bonding immediately with your baby was something that other people experienced - and I also had postnatal anxiety, so I guess partly I didn't have the capacity to think beyond I'm the absolute worst mum in the world. But so many people don't bond straight away. I wish someone had told me it's totally okay and normal to look at your newborn and be like "who even are you?" It would have been one less thing for me to feel awful about.

  3. Personally, I think the bonding takes time. While we are programmed to nurture and protect our babies, we do that before we've bonded I think. For some people it happens the moment they look at their baby. It didn't for me. It took time. I also think that the Edinburgh test should be reviewed. There were times when I took that test because within the past seven days I had laughed at things I normally laugh at, but still felt I was failing overall. But back on topic, I agree with you that PND and bonding are two separate things. Great post Dawn. xx

    1. I absolutely agree, bonding and PND are two seperate issues- simply put Collette. And no doubt the bond forms and grows over time. The more I get to know my little girl the more I like her! 🙂

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