Family Magazine

Postnatal Depression Made Me Want to Harm My Baby

By Therealsupermum @TheRealSupermum

Postnatal Depression made me want to harm my baby

I wanted to hurt my baby

Postnatal depression was not a new thing to me, I had faced this demon in my past, yet this time it felt like nothing I had ever felt before.

Here I was a proud new mom of a very beautiful baby yet my heart was literately split in two. Half of me loved her with every breath I had, yet the other half wanted to harm her.

Yes that is correct. You read it right. I wanted to harm my own baby.

Those feelings slowly crept over over a period of time. I have no recollection of how, when or why but I will always remember that first impulse to harm her.

I have never spoke about this horrifying time of my life other than to the health professionals in my life, today I speak out for the first time in the hope to bring some help to others.

I had other children, a perfect partner, a loving family home. Due to my depressive past it was no shock to become a victim of Post Natal Depression, but I never dreamt that I would ever want to harm a baby.

A defensive, tiny little person who depended its whole survival upon me, I was meant to love and care for her, why would I want to harm her?

I never acted upon these impulses, I use the word impulse because that is what it was. These negative dark thoughts would just jump into my mind, these thoughts would take over and then they would be gone.

What was happening to me? Why was I thinking this way? Was I normal?

When the midwife came to visit I kept quiet, when the Health Visitor came to visit I pretended to be happy and life was perfect. In reality my life was far from perfect.

I had convinced my husband, my family and friends that I was coping brilliantly and the more they complimented me the worse I felt inside.

I wanted to scream to cry to beg someone to take my baby as far away as possible from me as they could. I was terrified that I would hurt her, hated being alone with her, yet could not bare anyone else to even hold her.

I was slowly falling apart on the inside, yet was able to put on such a front on the outside not those closest to me could see what was happening under the surface.

The impulses could be anything from holding a cushion over her face to pouring a hot cup of tea over her head. Crazy right? Insane? Dangerous?

I was ill? Needed sectioning? Needed my child taken from me?


I was suffering from Postnatal Depression and due to feeling I was ill, believing I would be sectioned and terrified that they would take my baby from me, I kept these feelings hidden. I told nobody.

I suffered in silence for months. Every day I tried to ensure I was never left alone and if I was then I would place my baby in a safe place and leave the room. I felt safer knowing I was nowhere near her.

When did it stop? I do not remember. Was I relieved it had stopped? Yes – but then came the guilt.

The guilt of knowing I had wanted to hurt my baby.

Only years later would I be able to speak about this period of my life with a professional. If I knew then what I know now I could maybe have saved myself the heartache and reached out for support.

To this day Postnatal Depression is still a taboo subject to many. I want to break the silence. You are not alone, this is an illness and despite the stigma, you are not a bad mother.

Do women with PND harm their babies?

Depressed mothers often worry that they might do this, but it is very rare. Occasionally, through utter tiredness and desperation, you might feel like hitting or shaking your baby. Many mothers (and fathers) occasionally feel like this, not just those with PND. In spite of having these feelings at times, most mothers never act on them. If you do feel like this, tell someone.

Women often worry that if they tell someone how they feel, their baby may be taken away.  Actually your GP, health visitor and midwife will want to help you get better. This will mean that you can enjoy and care for your baby at home.

Postpartum (Pueperal) psychosis

This is the most severe type of mental illness that happens after having a baby. It affects around 1 in 1000 women and starts within days or weeks of childbirth.  It can develop in a few hours and can be life-threatening, so needs urgent treatment.

There are many symptoms that may occur.  Your mood may be high or low and there are often rapid mood swings. Women often experience psychotic symptoms. They may believe things that are not true (delusions) or see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations).

This illness always needs medical help and support. You may have to go into hospital. Ideally, this should be to a specialist mother and baby unit where your baby can go with you.

Women who have had previous episodes of severe mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, are at a high risk of postpartum psychosis. Women, who have had a severe episode of illness following a previous delivery, are also at very high risk. Let your doctor or midwife know about this. You can discuss with them ways to increase the chances of you staying well.

Although puerperal psychosis is a serious condition, the vast majority of women make a full recovery.

Taken from The Royal College Of Psychology*

If I ever come across this illness again, I would most certainly be shouting HELP ME!

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