A lot of my mum friends are currently having a second (or even third! yikes!) child right now. This brings mixed emotions. I am super happy for them - I truly am. But it does sometimes make me sad that for me, one will be the end.
Sometimes I look at them and think what a super job they are doing. I really can’t fathom how you do it with more than one. And I know that many of them have struggled with their mental health the first time round, so to go for it a second is really brave.
But others are obviously struggling. I was surprised to hear, when talking to a new mum friend, that the risk of maternal mental health is actually highest until the child is aged five. I knew that if you had struggled with one, the likelihood of struggling again increases (although only to 50%), but I had no idea that the risk is high until your child is five.
She struggled with anxiety and depression with her second child – but not until they were three (and her first was five). This is typically quite late. Or is it? Is it just that mums struggling that late on feel more of a stigma still than those struggling soon after birth? She said:
“I felt that as it was my second I should know what I was doing. And he was almost three when I started to suffer. So it didn’t cross my mind that it was PND. I just thought I was an awful mother.”
One study even found that mums of one are most at risk when the child is the age of four. Perhaps this is due to the child starting at school? Or the social pressure to have more children?
Like many of us, she has also turned her hand to helping mums keeping on top of life with her Mood Booster Journal. I wanted to mention this as whilst I am very much not the journaling “type” (and nor was she!), I have started in the last month and found it very beneficial. I’ve slept better, and been able to catch any unhelpful thoughts (I’m sure the CBT helped there too!). I haven’t been using her journal, just a notepad, but perhaps it’s one for my Christmas list!
So if you find yourself a mum of a toddler or pre-schooler (or even beyond!) and you are struggling. Don’t battle it alone. You likely haven’t been looking after yourself too well for many years. Try eating better, exercising, journaling or another hobby. And if you don’t see any improvement book YOURSELF a doctor’s appointment, not just one for your kids!