The Truth About Postpartum Mental and Physical Health

Published On
25 Feb, 2022
Read Time
5 minutes

Real parents tell us the truth about their experiences with mental and physical health.

Home truths, ugly truths, honest truths and naked truths. The truth is that after 50 years of supporting parents all around the world, we've learned everyone's everyday is different. And that's okay.

Molly's Story

"The truth is that as a parent through adoption, good mental health is crucial to be a great therapeutic parent. As a mum both biologically and through adoption, it's evident to me that adoptive parents have so many more hurdles to overcome. Self-care is essential.

Having a child through adoption can really impact your mental health. My son had to grieve so many losses when he was adopted, and he had experienced quite a lot of trauma in the past. Seeing him processing his past experiences every day really gets to me mentally.

I love my son and I want him to be happy and safe, so witnessing the long term impact what he's been through is having on his development is really hard to process. As a result, I've learnt that it's essential to look after myself and ask for support when I need it so that I can care for him the best I can.

The truth is that after adopting a child, you are entitled to quite a lot of support. Luckily, me and my husband did receive a lot of support from our son's social worker and our adoption agency when we needed it. We felt that this care was really positive in comparison to what we were provided with when we bought our biological daughter home from hospital."

Danielle's Story

"The truth is that looking after your mental and physical health when your pregnant and once your baby arrives is tricky.

Your hormones are all over the place, there's so much emotion and anxiety and it's such a big shift, especially with your first. Going from having no children to having a brand new baby to look after can be a real shock.

I found that having to adjust my mind to my new way of living took a lot more out of me than I thought it was going to. I didn't realise how much mental strength it takes to bring up a child. There's so much in the mix, your personal wellbeing, your relationship with your partner, caring for your baby. You're on-demand 24/7!

There is certainly a taboo about not being able to cope and an assumption that everyone should be able to manage, when in fact not everyone can. I think many mums don't want to express that they're not doing ok because society and some sections of social media lead us to believe that it should be easy.

Having a support network around you is so important. My husband and mum were literally my rocks through both my pregnancies and postpartum periods.

To anyone who is struggling with their mental wellbeing, I say don't be afraid to seek help and admit that you're not ok. There are so many more people who feel the same as you than you know. Once you start talking to other mums you realise that you're all going through the same thing, so don't be afraid to ask them for support and advice.

The truth is that the physical aspects of pregnancy, postpartum and parenting can be really difficult too.

I really struggled the first time round because I wasn't expecting to have a C-section. As a dancer I've always been really in-tune with my body, but after having the C-section, I looked in the mirror and I thought 'WOW! Whose body is this? I don't recognise this person'.

It really took a long time for me to come to peace with how my body had changed. I'd grown a baby and it was never going to be exactly as it was before I became a mum.

After my first baby arrived, I wasn't very kind to myself. The second time round, I knew what to expect more and I think I coped better. There was going to be swelling and pain, and healing would take time. I learned about C-section massage and exercised a little differently in the postpartum period which helped. It just takes time and patience.

Looking back now I know that the process and all the changes that came with it were worth it, because I've got two beautiful children. Yes, my body has changed, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."

Sarah and Laura's Story 

"The truth is that since having my baby, I've struggled more mentally than I initially thought I would. It's so physically demanding, and because I'm breastfeeding, I sometimes feel like my body is no longer mine. It's been tricky to adapt how I dress to suit my postpartum body, and I've felt overwhelmed in general.

I've had to lean on friends and family, as well as healthcare professionals to make sure that I'm mentally well post-pregnancy. I've reached out to my GP for counselling sessions and those close to me have been super understanding. I really believe that a problem shared is a problem halved.

During early motherhood, it can really feel like you're all alone. But there are so many thousands of people going through the same thing at the same time. In some ways, you're less alone than you ever have been." - Laura

Jessa and Jaryd's Story

"The truth is when it comes to your mental health after having a baby, there's no set time frame in which it can be negatively affected, and there will always be support there if you need it. Whether that's six months, nine months or a year down the line!

We're really lucky that in Australia you can pick up the phone and call PANDA or speak to your GP and get a mental health plan. Just remember that you're never ever alone."

Sam and Rob's Story

"The truth is that you're never fully prepared for the lack of time you have once you have a baby, and the impact that it can have on both your physical and mental health."

Gianni's Story

"The truth is when it comes to health in general, you're forever changed when you have children. Your body is not the same, your mind is not the same, and you don't think the same.

For me personally, as soon as I had my first child it was no longer a case of 'what am I going to do today?' But 'what are we going to do today?'. You're always thinking about how you can make yourself better, so that you're better for your children.

Basically, it's no longer about 'me', it's about 'us'.

Physically, my body just wasn't the same after I became a mom. You get stretch marks and saggy boobs, your hips change, for some there's weight gain. You're not always prepared for those changes, I know I wasn't!

Before I had my daughter Ellie, I had lost about 80lbs. Then once she arrived, I slowly started to gain it back, even though I was breastfeeding. Some women loose weight while nursing, but for me, that wasn't the case! I actually gained weight, and that messed with my mental wellbeing.

I was thankful for this new body that had bought life into the world, but on the flip side I was frustrated. I had just lost all that weight, bought a new wardrobe and then, nothing fit.

It was a struggle not feeling as sexy and fit as I had in the past. But my husband has always been so supportive. He tells me that I'm beautiful, and I've learnt to give myself some grace and tell myself that I can get back to where I was, it will just take a little time and effort."

If this content reminds you of your own experiences or makes you think of someone you know and you feel concerned or uncomfortable, please head to our support page for information about perinatal mental health resources that may be able to help.