Life after birth is an unnavigated journey that varies greatly from one person to the next and can, unfortunately, be a breeding ground for overwhelming emotions to manifest. This time can be very sensitive and important for partners to be very self-aware of their feelings while at the same time being supportive of mom and new baby.
As a partner now juggling multiple responsibilities and new roles within their life and household, things can start to feel like they are out of control with no bearing to follow. This can bring forth symptoms of postpartum depression and most notably dissociation with oneself.
Dissociation after birth is not an uncommon condition to be going through and can become exacerbated when PPD is considered a factor in a partner’s well-being.
It can be effortless for a partner to slip into a state of mind where they feel like they have lost their identity or struggle to have a sense of direction in life. Unfortunately, having any type of symptoms related to PPD creates a difficult path for partners to “come back to reality” and find themselves again.
As with PPD and any type of mental condition, seeking help and talking about your experiences is critical in reducing the severity and longevity of being dissociated from your being.
Dissociation after birth for partners: An overview
As a partner with new shoes to fill and responsibilities to be taken care of, this can feel like an overwhelming amount of work to have. Where to start, what to do, and how to do it, are all common questions that confront partners trying to be supportive in an unknown world with a newborn baby.
This can lead to moments of being spaced out or daydreaming to a more intense loss of identity or disconnection with your body and emotions.
Not to mention the fact that if the partner was present for the birth, that could have been a traumatic experience that stripped them of their control and supportive role in taking care of mom.
I can personally speak on behalf of my first daughter’s birth which was very traumatic and near death, I had lost myself and my trust in my ability to do anything. I could not come to terms with what had happened preventing me from having some type of closure with the birth and moving on to the next phase of raising our newborn. It was as if I was just going in circles expecting to somehow be pulled in the right direction by some spiritual power.
The feeling of dissociation makes it tremendously difficult for a partner to develop some type of foundational structure in being confident in knowing that you are supportive and decisive in helping out with the baby and mom.
Symptoms of Dissociation after birth in Partners
Here’s a list of some commonly experienced symptoms of dissociation after birth:
- Spacing out
- Experiencing slow motion
- Loss of identity
- Loss of memory
- Sense of body distortion
- Experiencing a sense of unreality
Factors contributing to dissociation in PPD
Having a history of any mental condition can be the number one contributing factor that affects dissociation after birth and can certainly increase the severity and duration of it. This can be said for any type of depression or mental condition when somebody has a history of brain pain.
Another significant factor that I can personally speak on behalf of is witnessing a traumatic birth. The definition of trauma varies from person to person and even a “normal” birth can have a dissociative impact on a partner’s well being.
As a partner who had to watch his wife and unborn child nearly die in front of him, I lost all feeling of control and struggled with why this happened and who I was to be able to try and save them when everything was out of my hands.
Another factor that plays a part in dissociation after birth is lack of sleep and exhaustion. Not getting enough rest without having a newborn is challenging enough to try and function at full capacity. Now having to navigate life with a newborn and little sleep is an overwhelming combination to try and be as fully present as one can.
Not having a strong support system or means of help can amplify the sensation of dissociation as well. This can create a stronger sense of loneliness and loss of identity.
Impact of Dissociation after birth on the family
Dissociation not only affects the partner that is struggling with it but can have a widespread impact on their family, friends, and work life. Your family can feel as if they don’t fit in or have a tough time bonding and growing the relationship between the partner and newborn.
A newborn baby is at an important stage of their life where bonding is a necessity and a partner experiencing dissociation after birth may feel they cannot provide that.
Mom is also going through a lot of changes and new learning experiences with the baby that with not having a partner who is fully present makes things more difficult. Mom may even start to develop stronger overwhelming emotions that transition into something such as PPD.
This is another reason why catching and treating dissociation at an early stage can be a game changer in preventing the ripples of this condition to impact the family and beyond.
Diagnosing and Treating Dissociation in Postpartum Depression
Identifying dissociation within PPD is a massive step in building back confidence, finding one’s purpose, and growing self-awareness. These three attributes help pave the way for living the compelling future that every partner is worthy and deserving of.
Being vulnerable and communicative with your family about your dissociative feelings is the first step in working through this condition. Establishing an open line of conversation with your spouse will help process your feelings and bring about more awareness of what you are going through.
Seeking additional help outside of the family is the next step in alleviating the burden that these dissociative feelings may have on you. Having someone to talk to and formulate a plan to work through and build back confidence, self-awareness, and purpose is paramount in preventing these feelings from transitioning into something more severe and long-term.
Having a compelling future to look and work forward to with somebody that can navigate you on that journey will shut down the feelings of emptiness, confusion, and loss of identity.
How can I help?
My journey with overcoming dissociation because of the traumatic events that happened to my wife and unborn child was not an easy one. Without any outside help, I was able to build back my confidence and find my purpose for being the most supportive dad, husband, and person for my family that I could be.
Looking back, I wish I had someone to guide me through that journey to shorten the recovery time and work on the things that really made a difference.
If you find yourself treading in similar waters, I encourage you to take the next step with me and schedule a 30-minute connection call. It could be the start of an incredible six-month journey of bringing back a life of love, confidence, and gratitude with your family.
With all the unknowns that happen while raising a newborn, the one thing you should make certain of is who you are and what your purpose is. Do not let the feelings of identity loss, confusion, and mental lapses spiral into a web that becomes harder and harder to untangle. Identifying and seeking help as early as possible is the only way to prevent your condition from having long-term effects.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and there are many people out there who are and have gone through what you are going through. Imagine living your compelling future with your family filled with love, confidence, and gratitude.
This can be a reality and I am here to support you along that journey. Come schedule a 30-minute call with me and let’s see how I can help, even if it’s providing some resources or pointing you in the right direction.
Don’t let life get away from you and bring back the person you know you are capable of being!
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