Anna Williamson speaks candidly about her postnatal trauma and baby bonding issues as she urges new parents to be more honest with their feelings after birth.
TV presenter, author and mother to adorable Enzo, Anna Williamson is not one to shy away from difficult conversations. As well as dishing out some much-needed dating advice to a gaggle of unlucky-in-love celebrities on E4’s Celebs Go Dating, Anna’s also confronted the tricky issue of parenting anxiety in her book Breaking Mum and Dad.
After recently announcing she’s expecting her second child with husband Alex di Pasquale, Anna says parents need to be more ‘authentic and honest’ when talking about their feelings and experiences after welcoming a new child.
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Speaking candidly to Baby about her own experiences as a mother and the common issues she encounters when approached by new parents, Anna offers up insightful and very welcome advice.
Anna Williamson on postnatal trauma
“I had very bad postnatal depression and trauma [after giving birth to Enzo], but I think it’s very important to be as open and as honest as possible,” Anna comments.
She continues: “Other women and fathers can feel alienated thinking ‘is it just me’, but the reality is it’s never just you. If we all believe what’s behind a filter on Instagram then the world would be a very unrealistic place.”
What are the common issues parents face? Are you ever asked about ‘bonding issues?
Anna went on to reveal ‘bonding issues’ is one of the most common problems new mums approach her about and revealed that she had also struggled to bond with her own son after he was born.
“Bonding issues was the biggest thing, and it was something that really affected me when I had Enzo,” Anna revealed.
“This Hollywood notion of falling madly and utterly in love with your newborn the moment they emerge is, actually, a bit of a myth.”
Why do new mums experience these bonding issues?
“Lots of parents don’t feel that intense initial bond, and there’s lots of reasons for that,” Anna explains.
“The shock and exhaustion of giving birth [can trigger it] and there’s also the floods of hormones flinging around the body – sometimes, the right hormones aren’t released at the right time.
“Bonding and loving your child instantly was a real taboo topic that came up and I think we, as parents, need to be honest that it’s ok to feel like that initially.”
Speaking about other emotions or unexpected issues new parents may experience, Anna revealed loss of identity is something she’s often asked about, adding: “I hear a lot from parents during my research, people are grieving their pre-baby life and finding parenthood quite overwhelming.”
What about the dads? Should we do more to help with male postnatal depression?
And it’s not only mums who can struggle to adjust to life with a baby, Anna explains men also reach out to her about their parental anxiety.
“Statistics show it’s something that definitely affects men, as many as one in 10 fathers experience postnatal depression.But if women struggle to talk about it then, for dads it’s even more so. I think, as women, we should take responsibility of that.”
Admitting that she was ‘quick to shutdown her husband when he voiced his struggles after the birth of their son, Anna now urges women to acknowledge their partner’s feelings.
“It’s really important to validate their feelings as well because they are also going through an incredible life change.”
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