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Mental exhaustion/confusion after childbirth - anyone else had this.

(23 Posts)
Bubbinsmakesthree Wed 01-Mar-17 21:22:53

After having my first DC (induced, only drugs were G&A and a local anaesthetic to allow forceps) I felt mentally 'out of it' for large chunks of the first week.

I'm expecting DC2 in a few weeks and a bit concerned about the same thing happening again, but I have no idea what caused it.

I can only describe it as a bit like the mental state you're in when you are absolutely blind drunk - inability to think straight, confused, simple tasks become very challenging.

Does it just come down to being utterly exhausted by the process of childbirth? Has anyone else had a similar experience?

A few specific examples of what I mean:

-not being able to write a text message because the mental process involved in converting the word in my head into typed letters was completely overwhelming

-having to hang onto DH to walk down a busy street because there were too many things to process (people, traffic etc)

-feeling like my thought process was 'lagging behind' the rest of me.

It was really disconcerting but when I spoke to MWs/HVs about it they seemed at a loss to explain it.

DappledThings Wed 01-Mar-17 22:42:43

Not sure if it's the same thing but I had periods of spacedoutness that started about an hour after birth and lasted 2 weeks.

Best I could describe it was that everything felt very far away and dreamlike. Like if you're really drunk (as far as I remembered!) But go home and try to watch telly, it's hard to concentrate on and nothing feels really. Trying to explain this to the doctor on the labour ward was fun!

In my case I think it was bloody pressure related. It spiked the day I was induced and I was on medication for 6 weeks to control it.

DappledThings Wed 01-Mar-17 22:44:20

"nothing feels really" was meant to be "nothing feels real". Quite the crucial part of the description

Mysterycat23 Wed 01-Mar-17 22:44:42

I had bouts of something similar for first 2 to 3 weeks. Classic sleep deprivation symptoms?

knowler Wed 01-Mar-17 22:49:17

I had something similar. After ds1, I remember trying to watch a film and seeing the images in front of me but just not processing any of the story or taking in any dialogue. It was really odd. After ds2, I (evidently) met several new people at our new nursery and in the area (we moved house when ds2 was 3 weeks old). I subsequently had no recollection of them - not even their faces. This was v odd for me as in the past I've had great recall of names/faces/conversations and have never experienced that feeling of not being able to place someone. With these ppl, there was just no recognition at all.

colouringinagain Wed 01-Mar-17 22:51:42

Sounds like total mental exhaustion. I've had similar experiences eg re text when I am totally overwhelmed or (don't wish to worry you) experiencing some mental health difficulties (depression/anxiety). So I'd say exhaustion from sleep deprivation, plus major hormonal changes could well make you feel like this.

Rest, rest, rest, accept all offers of help and sleep as much as you can and if it worries you talk to your Gp.

Oh and congratulations and best wishes.

EllenRipley Wed 01-Mar-17 23:16:05

I had this, in retrospect I know it was sleep deprivation, crazy hormones and my body recovering from emergency c section and probably the drugs that went with it. My iron was also low, though I didn't know it at the time. I felt like a total nutter! Ended up with PND three months in, probably due to a combo of all of the above. It's pointless to advise sleep and rest but I think good nutrition and keeping in touch with your GP or health visitor if you're feeling lousy is a good idea, I wish I'd been more vigilant with myself but so many people just told me the first while would be difficult/hellish I thought it was 'normal'!

Funnyonion17 Thu 02-Mar-17 15:59:10

Depersonalisation? Either way exhaustion can cause strange symptoms.

Bubbinsmakesthree Thu 02-Mar-17 17:18:44

Thanks for sharing your experiences - I can really identify with them and it's good to know other people had the same thing. The MWs in hospital just gave me a confused face and really weren't very reassuring when I was sobbing about how out of sorts and confused I was feeling.

The best way I can describe it is as though I was in the passenger seat and someone else was driving.

I remember having a (perfectly normal) conversation with MIL and thinking 'how are these words coming out of my mouth, I am not thinking them?!'

I wasn't especially sleep deprived during the first week or so (DS was a very sleepy newborn) but I wonder if it could have been hormonal?

I've literally never seen this discussed or written about so it's very reassuring to see others have been in the same position.

TheWeeBabySeamus1 Thu 02-Mar-17 17:24:32

I felt like I was in some sort of surreal dream the first few weeks after having my son. Forgetting who people were (including my mum and brother), where I was, actually thinking I was in a dream etc. At one point I went in the kitchen to get a drink, stood day dreaming for a minute, went back in the living room and nearly had a heart attack when I saw a baby there. Seriously, it took a few minutes before I remembered that he was mine blush

I think it was a mixture of lack of sleep, hormones and my life completely changing overnight.

kennethwidmerpool Thu 02-Mar-17 17:25:33

This happened to me exactly after DC1. I had blood pressure problems after delivery and was on medication for 6 weeks. I also had severe sleep deprivation from trying to bf and pumping around the clock.

I remember describing it as "a mind full of broken glass". I couldn't think properly, thoughts wouldn't run together and I was incapable of basic timing / organisation issues like spacing feeds or remembering how much formula DC had had. My DP had to write down instructions for caring for the baby when he couldn't be there, basic things like how to change a nappy.

I think it lasted for about 2-3 weeks, and was the most frightening time of my life.

Hopefully a good MW experienced in traumatic labours should understand. Trauma and childbirth does funny things to the brain. A supportive partner, loads of rest and the knowledge that it will pass is all I can suggest flowers

Lules Thu 02-Mar-17 17:34:57

Yes I had this. I remember a nurse asking me to lie my baby on his side and I couldn't work out what side was. But I don't think it's that surprising- I had been awake for a very long time in labour and I was a bit traumatised by the birth.

ACatCalledFang Fri 03-Mar-17 01:43:09

I remember finally getting a shower three days after my EMCS and sobbing to DP that I'd forgotten how to wash myself! Sleep deprivation, in my case, plus hormones and trauma maybe. I don't think it's unusual. Certainly not after being awake for the best part of five days hmm

MichaelJacksonsGlove Fri 03-Mar-17 06:55:03

Yes I too had a combination of a long labour, awake for 48 hours, low BP, blood loss and therefore low iron levels, probably a touch of PTSD and sleep deprivation. I was on the phone and was asked to spell out my name and I just couldn't do it! The letters are jumbled up and I couldn't match the letter in my head to the sound coming out my mouth.

However with number 2 I had none of this at all. Straight forward birth and recovery and no crippling mind fog. It won't necessarily happen to you again .

Devilishpyjamas Fri 03-Mar-17 07:02:32

How were your iron levels? I felt like this after ds3 - and I was anaemic.

MalcomTuckerInSpace Fri 03-Mar-17 07:07:10

Did you lose any blood? I had a (small, 500ml) PPH with my first birth and felt like this for a few days. I didn't get it with my second birth, so I'd always assumed it was because of the bleeding.

Batteriesallgone Fri 03-Mar-17 07:10:39

Yeah I had this. I think it's quite common. It's part of what makes new mothers so vulnerable - the threads every so often where a family member has taken over with the baby etc I always think I bet that mother was in no state to put up a fight. It's sad people don't talk about it and everyone just expects you to get up and get on with things after birth.

OhTheRoses Fri 03-Mar-17 07:12:59

Not to the same level but enough to shock me. I was fine with the next baby though. I knew what to expect and due to a firm birth plan retained control of my being in labour.

smellsofelderberries Sat 04-Mar-17 06:39:21

I had this for quite a few days and I think it was from losing so much blood (1.8L PPH shock) I felt like I could control my thoughts and had very repetitive, annoying, intrusive thoughts. I suffer from sensory overload anyway and being in hospital several days really didn't help. It got better after about a week at home.

Newmanwannabe Sat 04-Mar-17 06:54:40

Like somone about said it could be anaemia, or I wonder if bloodsugars (especially if you're breastfeeding) thyroid, low vitamin D? Perhaps your GP could check all your levels. And the other thought is could it be a sign of postnatal depression? Whilst it's normal to feel tired and even a bit exhausted your symptoms sound like they go on a bit beyond that

Newmanwannabe Sat 04-Mar-17 07:00:11

I had a type 1 diabetic lady have a blood sugar drop in front of my eyes, she just went really vague and "away". Was concerning to watch. Breastfeeding/expressing can really affect your sugars because of all the hormones.

Bubbinsmakesthree Sat 04-Mar-17 09:25:25

So interesting to read all the replies!

I had a small blood loss, was slightly anaemic, barely got fed during 4 day stay in hospital. None of them probably enough on their own,but combine it all with the big hormonal changes and a somewhat traumatic birth and yes i guess it is hardly surprising.

As with so many other things about childbirth etc it would have helped so much at the time if someone had just said 'this happens, it's normal' or better yet been told in advance we could feel like this.

My Dad had a major operation a few years ago and we were warned in advance that he could feel disoriented or have memory lapses in the recovery period. When it happened and he temporarily didn't recognise his own family we were prepared and could reassure him that it was OK, it would pass. When I felt similarly confused after the birth I would have really appreciated that same reassurance.

AudreyBradshaw Sun 05-Mar-17 14:05:18

Yes, It took me ages to "complete thoughts" I had to really concentrate on concentrating if you know what I mean.

30 hour b2b labour followed by EMCS and higher than normal blood loss. I didn't start feeling "right" unil about 3/4 weeks when I was put on iron tablets again. (Then I was completely wiped out by some kind of viral infection which left me you enables would weeks in bed unable to move.) In hindsight, my immune system was in its arse.

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