Maternal Mental Health: My Story Of Separation Anxiety

With maternal mental health week drawing to a close, I thought I would share my story of learning to cope with separation anxiety. Before I had Jasper I had never really suffered with anxiety or any mental health issues really. And although I was aware that having a baby could lead to things like the baby blues and post natal depression, I had never really given it much thought and I really didn’t think I would experience these conditions. I now realise that maternal mental health is so important. It’s not surprising really given that you go through a massive life changing experience. Then mix that with all the hormones racing through your body, it’s no wonder that your mental health could need some support.

Me and my baby boy – him wanting milk and me wanting a picture!

When I was pregnant and I was preparing for Jasper’s arrival I read about babies going through phases of separation anxiety from their parents. But I never really came across mum’s having separation anxiety from their babies until I experienced it. So I hope by writing this post maybe someone else will identify with this and maybe feel less alone with their anxiety. Or if anyone has overcome separation anxiety and has any tips the could share with coping that wold be appreciated.

For me, it started after Jasper’s birth. I ended up being induced at 42 weeks pregnant and after a several day long labour I had an emergency section. I was then ill for a few months after this and had quite a difficult recovery. This meant that I ended up needing a lot of help looking after Jasper in the early days and I couldn’t care for him how I wanted to. He was always in the house with me when other people were looking after him but I just overwhelmingly felt like I needed to be close to him because he felt like the only good thing going on and I needed to protect him.

For me, the only way I can describe my separation anxiety is that my heart hurts at even the thought of not being around him. I don’t feel like anything bad would happen to him if he’s not with me and I know he would be absolutely fine if I was to leave him with someone like my partner or my mum but I just really don’t want to. I also have a constant feeling of guilt like I have to make up for lost time after not being able to look after him as much myself during the early days of his life. One part of my brain knows this isn’t really rational but the other part really struggles to get past it.

I didn’t leave Jasper on his own with anyone at all until he was about 9 months old and even now I have only done it a handful of times for therapy appointments and keeping in touch days for work. Almost 11 months after Jasper’s birth I am still learning how to cope with my anxiety. I do think that it is starting to get a bit easier for me but I don’t think it will ever fully go away which I think is probably quite natural. In a few week’s I will be going back to work after maternity leave and I don’t really want to go because I don’t want to leave Jasper but lots of people who have returned to work after having a baby have reassured me that it will be fine once we have settled in to a routine so hopefully it will be!

If you feel comfortable sharing your experience with separation anxiety or any other maternal mental health issue then I would like to hear it in the comments or on Instagram or Twitter. Or if you have any tips on how to cope with separation anxiety then please let me know.

Thanks for reading, Jen x


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