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Does PND affect the mother child relationship in the long term?

(30 Posts)
changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 10:12:55

If you had PND, did it affect the relationship with your child when they were older?

I had severe PND with my first child and didn't bond with her straight away so this has bothered me on and off ever since. Luckily for me, I got good treatment and recovered quickly from the PND and touch wood my DD seems to be a normal and mostly happy child.

Although I'm fully recovered and love her massively now, the experience has left me open to feeling a bit insecure about my relationship with her. She never had any separation anxiety as a baby or toddler which worried me (isn't it a sign of attachment?) and has always seemed to prefer her dad over me. Now she's 3 and when she says "I don't like you mummy" or "You're not my friend!" I can't help but wonder whether it's a sign of her not being well attached to me or being able to sense that we had a difficult start.

Written down I know this sounds silly as 3 year olds say things designed to get attention - and I don't react when she says things like this. It's just I feel like I'm living under the shadow of PND and I won't know whether it's damaged her or our relationship until she's much older. Does anyone else feel like this?

Or if you had PND and have an older child, how is your relationship with them now and do you think the PND had an impact?

splendide Thu 30-Jun-16 14:24:22

Well mine is 18 months and no sign so far. He was glued to my breast basically all the time so although I didn't feel at all bonded I am hoping he wouldn't have noticed.

I completely recognise your worries though and likewise mine has always been quite non-clingy.

I'll await other comments with interest.

changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 15:19:19

That's good to hear. Yes the rational part of me thinks if they are so tiny, how much can they really notice what's going on. I just always wondered whether the sad/stressed vibes somehow got through and affected their development or something.

Also I ended up in a mother and baby unit, so far from being glued to me, dd was sometimes held and fed by the nurses so i could recover. (I had started off breastfeeding but had to stop when the PND got bad - spent a long time feeling like I'd failed her there too! ) I do still wonder whether if I'd managed to hold her more and BF longer she'd be less independent and more attached to me?

I think it was reading another thread with a mum having a difficult time with her older DD and posters were asking did she have PND after the birth, just got me thinking whether there is likely to be difficult times ahead for those of us that struggled in the early days...

splendide Thu 30-Jun-16 15:24:55

I think the problem is we will never unpick the reasons for things. There are always difficult times in parenting.

I know my mum thought I wasn't relating to him "normally".

romanrainsalot Thu 30-Jun-16 15:39:50

This is something I worried about a lot.

DS is now 5. I adore him and he adores me. We are best friends. He misses me when I have to go away for work and I miss him too.

Family tell me he adores me too, so I know its not just me being biased.

I would never have gotten to this point though, were it not for a whole host of things including super parents, partner, counselling, anti-depressants and sleep (this was a major issue for me and DS).

All I can say is try to not live in the shadow of PND. Yes kids will say anything, there were times when DS didn't like me because I'd put him on the naughty step - "well, I am not your friend" etc etc. But at the moment I think he does prefer me to his Dad, mainly because I've moved out of PND and let the real me shine through and I also "get" DS more than DH does. But I also think its an age thing and once DS gets a bit older, he might not want to do stuff with me, but do cool stuff with Dad etc.

I know some people say girls are very independent (my 4 yr old niece is) and boys are more clingy so maybe theres an element of that too.

changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 20:58:39

Glad I'm not alone in worrying about these things. I have to say I worry much less now than I did. In fact in the midst of crippling PND, probably my most terrible fear was the impact it would have on my DD. Now that worry just creeps in now and again when I'm feeling a bit insecure!

Agree it's hard to unpick the reasons for things. Plenty of people get PND and plenty of people go through tough times with kids/behaviour/relationships etc. I wonder if it's ever possible to put it behind you for good...

Also interested to hear about girls being more independent. In my sample size of 2, I've got a tremendously stubborn and determined girl who barely tolerates an occasional cuddle, and a placid cheerful boy who would happily be cuddled all day long. Maybe with mine it is just their nature rather than my poor DD being damaged at the start.

Nice to hear that you both have great bonds with your DCs now.

reynoldsnumber Thu 30-Jun-16 21:14:00

If it makes you feel any better my first daughter was very much like yours, and I didn't have PND. She didn't like being held that much and never needed cuddles. She also preferred her dad at that age (3), and still does to an extent (she's 5 now). She said similar things to me about preferring him. No real separation anxiety, and she's super confident.

Our second was very different - much more attached and huge separation anxiety. Needs lots of cuddles (which I love!) and has really had to build her confidence.

So please try not to worry - there is a wealth of variety in what is normal for girls at that age, in my experience.

ChilliMum Thu 30-Jun-16 21:31:50

No it doesn't. I had pnd with my second, I was ill for a while after the birth, we didn't bond at all and I felt detached from him for a long time. There was no eureka moment where I felt love I guess it just came gradually as I got better.
My beautiful boy is now 5 and there is no difference between the bond I have with him or with his older sister if anything I would say that although there is no difference in strength our bond is special because it didn't come naturally and we both had to work for it.

changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 21:32:08

Thank you, that's helpful. It's reassuring that a mum who didn't have PND has a similarly independent and non-cuddly DD! Come to think of it our poor girl probably takes after me, as I am also pretty stubborn and not much of a cuddler apart from with the children.

divafever99 Thu 30-Jun-16 21:36:31

I had pnd with dd1. Due to a difficult birth I struggled to bond with her, I remember when we brought her home sobbing because she didn't feel like "mine". She is now 5. We have a fantastic relationship, I don't think it has done her any harm at all. There are days when she just wants daddy, but I think this would be the case regardless as I am at home more than him.

PeggyMitchell123 Thu 30-Jun-16 21:36:44

No I don't think so. I was diagnosed with PND when my son was 6 weeks old, I was a wreck in his newborn days. I did bond with him but I was always in tears and unhappy so I can't look back at him as a newborn and smile. It is like a black cloud is over it all.

However he is now almost 3 and I have felt really fine since he was around a year old. I have a great bond with him and am really happy with him most of the time! He doesn't remember the pnd and while i do sometimes feel sad I can't remember his first smile because of the PND, it has not affected our long term relationship thankfully.

PeggyMitchell123 Thu 30-Jun-16 21:38:51

Oh and my son cries whenever his dad leaves for work while he happily waves me off. I think that is just because he is with me all the time( i only work 2 days a week) while his dad works long hours so when his dad is home, he wants his dad more.

FellOutOfBed2wice Thu 30-Jun-16 21:40:40

My grandmother has very bad PND with my Mum and it definitely had an impact on their relationship- she was far closer to her Dad (sadly he's now now passed away) and even now in her fifties (and my Nan in her eighties) they have a visibly disconnected relationship. However my grandmothers PND was undiagnosed and untreated. In fact I think it just went on and on and it wasn't until a suicide attempt 20 odd years later that she was given any treatment for what were clearly massive psychological problems. I think that because it had gone on for my Mums entire childhood/adolescence and into her early adulthood, that's why their relationship suffered... Had she been treated even when my Mum was a child, let alone a baby, I don't think it would have taken hold like it did. Nowadays understanding and treatment is so much better and you will have been out of the other side before your DD had a chance to know something was off key, unlike my Mum who went for a large portion of her life with something being very wrong. flowers for everything you've been through, OP. Don't worry yourself about your bond with your daughter. The fact that you've even considered this shows you're a good mother.

FWIW too despite having a very weird model for mother/daughter relationships my own Mum never had PND and bonded with me and my sister no problem.

changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 21:40:53

That's lovely to hear chillimum - a really positive way to look at it.

Itsaplayonwords Thu 30-Jun-16 21:46:28

My Mum had PND after she had me, although it was less recognised at the time and went untreated. I was still a Mummy's girl and hated leaving her for play school and even into primary school. We had a fractious couple of years when I was a teenager but what mother and daughter don't? We're much closer now and now that I'm experiencing PND for the second time I feel like my Mum is the one person who can truly understand what I'm going through.

changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 21:55:01

Thanks. It's really nice to hear from all you PND survivors about all these lovely mother-child relationships. I definitely relate to the missing daddy more because he's in short supply whereas boring mummy is home all day!

Thanks for sharing your mum's story fellout. That sounds so tough for both her and your grandmother. Yes I'm grateful that I got the treatment I did and managed to recover during my DDs very early months.

My own mother had PND though it wasn't picked up or treated. She also had depression when we were kids and we have a disconnected type of relationship too. I think this is probably reflected in a lot of my worries about me and DD - I want the cycle to end here!

changerlenom Thu 30-Jun-16 22:00:25

Sorry you've had it twice itsaplay - such a horrible thing to go through once let alone more than that. Good that you've got your mum for support.

GreenRut Thu 30-Jun-16 22:04:49

I don't think it impacts, no. I have 3 dc. Had PND with first two (quite severe) and took measures to try to ward it off with the third, they worked and i never got it and my bond with all 3 is the same. They are all still very small so it's all relatively recent so I'm still 'in' it in enough to be able to tell iyswim. I agree how you describe your dc is probably a personality thing. My eldest would have to be bribed into giving me a kiss, my 2nd was showering me with them and the third, who I never had PND with refuses most attempts at any kind of displays of affection! I think when you've been through PND you get this kind of inbuilt guilt because you feel guilty at the time from feeling so different to how you are 'supposed to' and i guess it never really leaves you, even when the PND does, it's like this little nagging in the back of your head.

CwtchMeQuick Thu 30-Jun-16 22:40:46

I don't think it impacts the child, but I think it can have a lasting impact on the mother. I had PND with DS, he was a poorly baby, I left a DV relationship with his father when he was 8 months. I survived the first year of his life by going through the motions and working, I was completely absent emotionally. I took care of DS, played with him, did baby groups, did everything right in a physical sense, but I didn't feel like I could truly say I loved him until he was probably almost 2.

My friend pointed out to me not long ago that when I'm not in a good place in myself, I resort back to not bonding with DS. Basically go through the motions without enjoying any of it and work as much as I possibly can. I'm really trying to be aware of it and make an effort to enjoy DS all the time.

He doesn't seem affected by it anyway. He's never bothered about saying goodbye to me, happily swans off with friends or family or to preschool without a backwards glance, he's never had separation anxiety. But everyone says he talks about me a lot when I'm not there. My family seem to think he's so secure in our relationship that he has no reason to be anxious about where I am, it'd never occur to him that I'll be gone long.

I think as mothers we are our own worst critics, and it's easy to let the PND type feelings creep up. But it's important to understand those feelings and keep them in check. I try to turn mine around and see it as a good thing that I'm so conscious now of mine and DSs bond. I use my insecurities to make sure he always feels secure in his relationship with me, and he seems pretty content.

CallarMorvern Thu 30-Jun-16 23:38:08

I had pretty awful PND, but soldiered on and got to 18mths, before cracking up and ending up on antidepressants and beta blockers. I had bonded and b/f, but got to the stage where I couldn't stand her touching me and wanting to be held.
DD is 11 now, she's a bit feisty, but definitely a mummy's girl. So, no I don't think it has harmed our relationship long term.

changerlenom Fri 01-Jul-16 07:30:39

Definitely yes to PND leaving behind an inbuilt guilt. And a lasting impact on the mother.

Has anyone who's had PND thought about whether/how to tell their DC about it when they are older (if still young)? For me it feels like it's part of her very early life story as we spent time in the MBU together when she was tiny. But I'm also kind of dreading having to bring it up - perhaps due to the guilt or social stigma. I suppose it would feel like a confession of sorts. It just feels horrible to tell her that I didn't bond with her straight away, in fact I was so exhausted and confused some days I could barely recognise her or remember her name.

GreenRut Fri 01-Jul-16 12:59:56

I've thought about it yes and i will tell them. Only once I had it did I realise the stigma around it, I was going around telling people I had it quite openly, in my mind it was an illness and should be able to be talked about like any other. I think I disarmed alot of people by being a bit too open maybe. But, I'm super proud I got through it, it was bloody horrific on top of normal new born/ small baby stresses which can be horrific enough as it is! But I worked hard to identify what was going on, got the right medication and put my all into getting through it, it took 3 years but I did it. I'd like to think my kids would be proud when I tell them (but they'd actually just ignore me and ask what's for dinner :-)

UniversalTruth Fri 01-Jul-16 14:20:35

I didn't have PND but have a history of depression, and in my (now healed, 90% positive) mind, I want to use my experience to make sure my children's mental health is good. They're only little, but I hope I can find ways to pass on the positive thinking and self confidence that helped me beat depression a few years ago. Maybe this is something you could focus on rather than worry?

Tiggeryoubastard Fri 01-Jul-16 14:23:48

In my experience, no. Apart from usual teen twattishness we've always got on extremely well, and still do. He's 20 (two older siblings).

changerlenom Fri 01-Jul-16 14:36:07

Good on you Green. Getting through PND is the hardest thing I've ever done and certainly something to be proud of. Funny, I was also merrily telling people all about it when I was in the midst of it all, even texting friends from the hospital when I got admitted confused. I think because I was so utterly shellshocked and couldn't understand or believe what was happening I was just trying to cling onto anything that made it seem more normal. Then when I got back home and started going to baby groups and eventually started back at work, it became a big secret that I would have hated to talk about with anyone. I wish it was more openly talked about in real life - but it takes a lot of courage to do that.

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