My postpartum journey was...terrifying
Trigger warning: this story discusses postpartum depression which may be triggering for some readers.
Popular influencer and co-host of the Beyond the Bump podcast, Jayde Couldwell describes her last postpartum experience as ‘depressing, dark, lonely, sad’ and ‘one of the scariest’ times of her life. We chatted to Jayde about her experience with postnatal depression and the importance of speaking up and seeking help if something doesn’t feel right.
If I had to describe my postpartum journey in one word, it would be....terrifying. If I could choose four, they would be depressing, dark, lonely and sad.
Put simply, my last postpartum experience will go down as one of the scariest times of my life.
In fact, trying to find the words two years on to describe it, and I still get a lump in my throat thinking of the journey I had.
I remember looking at myself naked in the mirror and thinking every part of my body was hideous, from my hair down to my toes. When I looked at my newborn baby I felt guilty for not giving her enough love, and I looked at my two older daughters like they weren’t my own. Everything I felt during this time felt like I was in another person’s body.
It took me three long months to realise I was suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety, and unfortunately, by the time I realised, it had taken over my life completely. I had catastrophic thoughts flooding my mind and I was frightened of my own mental state.
It took a number of hospital, GP, psychologist and psychiatrist appointments, a lot of help, and self-help, but I made it out the other side stronger, and incredibly proud of myself for getting through such a vulnerable time in my life. While in one way I was my own support system, because I was determined to get through postnatal depression, I couldn’t have done it without the help of my doctor, other professionals, family and friends, and our healthcare system, which really took care of me.
Looking back, I think my postpartum depression was so unexpected because I had no idea what it was or what it felt like, and I wish there had been more conversation about it.
I personally think social media is slowly getting better at portraying the reality of postpartum, including real bodies, and I appreciate that having three daughters myself, I want to be part of this positive change. This is the main reason my co-host Sophie and I decided to start our podcast, Beyond the Bump, to help make other women feel supported.
It’s also why I wanted to be part of Modibodi’s Embodied: Postpartum Unfiltered campaign. The challenges of postpartum weren’t just physical for me, but around mental health, and I want women to know the importance of nourishing both your body and your mind after birth, of doing things in your own time. Motherhood isn’t a race, and if you feel something isn’t right, it’s more than ok to open up, to speak up, and to seek help.
I would advise pregnant mums and their partners preparing for postpartum to lower the expectations of what you anticipate your new life to be like and just focus on nurturing your child and yourself – and let family and friends help...because they’re dying to lend a hand!
Besides my experience of postnatal depression, the hardest part of the postpartum phase for me was the lack of sleep, and the expectations we put on ourselves as new mothers to be perfect, while on the positive side, I loved discovering how incredible our bodies are, what we can create, and how we constantly transform, time and time again.
Just remember, whatever it looks like, this is your new normal and it will take some time to adjust and feel comfortable in a brand new role. And that’s ok.