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Things to do with your baby
- Play - the NHS has lots of baby and toddler play ideas. Look, Say, Sing, Play from the NSPCC is also helpful.
- Reading - Bookstart (or Bookbug in Scotland) gives away free books and runs sessions in local libraries. Bookstart has some good tips on how to read with your baby.
- Singing nursery rhymes and songs – Bookbugs has a nursery rhymes and songs library online with videos to help give you inspiration. The website also includes the song’s words and suggestions about how to use the songs with different age children. You don’t have to stick with nursery rhymes - your baby will enjoy hearing your voice, whatever song you sing.
- Bonding activities – Family Lives has some tips on things you can do to help bond with your baby.
Some days you may find it hard to talk to your baby. You can still give them lots of love and reassurance through holding and stroking. You may want to use a baby carrier or sling so you have lots of physical contact.
Baby groups in the first year
Attending baby groups (when you feel ready) can be helpful. They can give structure to your day, help you feel less isolated and help you play and bond with your baby. But many PP mums told us they found them quite hard.
“I found it hard to go to groups – I felt like I had such a different experience to everyone else.”
- Ask a friend, relative, health visitor or Homestart volunteer to go with you the first few times.
- Groups with an activity or a focus can be easier than unstructured groups – for example, baby massage, baby yoga, sing & sign, or swimming lessons. Many local libraries do story and song times too.
- You might find it helpful to decide beforehand what you want to say about your experience. You could even have a sentence or two planned. You can decide whether you want to be funny or sincere.
- You can be open about your experience, but you don’t have to be. You don’t need to tell anyone anything you don’t want to.
- Most mums find meeting new people hard so you won’t be alone.
- If you’re not sure what to say, ask other parents about their baby.
- If you don’t get the response you want remember that they might just be exhausted and struggling to make conversation too.
- Get ideas from other mums who have experienced PP on APP’s community forum.
“My husband would say ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ – and that helped me remember that I wasn’t just looking after myself for me, but for my baby and for him too.”
Rest and sleep
Rest is a crucial part of recovery and coping as a mum. You may find your medication makes you feel very tired too.
Some mums found that exercise really helped with their recovery. Others felt pressure to exercise when they didn't feel up to it. It’s ok to wait until you feel ready. Little things like going for a walk may be hard at first, but things become easier as they become a habit.
“Exercise was really helpful – going swimming once a week.”
Meeting other mums in the first year
Parenting can be lonely and making ‘mum friends’ can be harder when you are not feeling fully yourself after PP. It’s ok if you’re not feeling yourself – no new parent is. Most people will have their own struggles and difficulties of one kind or another.
You can talk to lots of other women who have recovered from PP on APP’s forum or through APP’s one-to-one peer support service online. In some areas, APP organises face-to-face meet-ups with a recovered volunteer or APP café groups for other recovered and recovering mums.
Some mums worry about the long term impact of their illness and recovery on their child.
There hasn’t been a lot of research on the impact of PP on children. The small amount of research that has been done suggests that mums who experience PP are unlikely to have long-term problems bonding with their children. It also suggests that experiencing PP probably doesn’t impact on long-term child development. However, more research is needed in this area.
“I still have to keep telling myself that I only need to be a ‘good-enough’ mother. I found that counselling and reading my medical records have helped me to begin to accept that what happened was not my fault.”
You may also be managing an ongoing diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Bipolar UK can offer support.
If you’re at home but you’re still experiencing a lot of difficult symptoms, you may have been discharged too early. Speak to your doctor about whether you should still be cared for in hospital.
Parenting and social media
Managing social media can be hard even when well. Seeing ‘perfect’ parents and children on social media can make you feel worse about yourself. Social media can also feel intrusive, with lots of messages that require a response. Some women find they need to take a break from social media during recovery. Others find great sources of support online.
"I went through my feeds and deleted anyone who made me feel bad about myself. There are lots of supportive groups and people who make me laugh and reflect my actual experience of parenting.”