We are delighted that Talia has recently opened up and talked about her experiences of Perinatal Mental Health Illness. Talia is a true demonstration of a mother who can manage a difficult pregnancy, light up her own flourishing career and be the best Mother a child could wish for. Talia is working with PANDAS as an ambassador to encourage others to speak up, share their stories and end the stigma. PANDAS are here to help parents. And we want you to know that it’s OK not to be OK.
Approximately half of new mothers are concerned about their mental health and they are suffering in silence, according to research by the NCT. There are a range of symptoms and conditions that fall under perinatal mental illness, including antenatal or postnatal depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder – and dads can be affected too. If left untreated it can have a devastating effect on the whole family.
We’ve selected a few of the top tips we’ve come across from working with new parents every day, and also through our partnership with the NCT as sponsors for The Big Push.
Talk About Your Feelings
Whatever you’re going through, it’s important to talk. By vocalising your problems, you will see your way forward more clearly. What’s more, whoever you speak to may offer you important advice, or make you see everything in a different way. Who you talk to doesn’t really matter, all that matters is that you trust them and you can confide in them. Counselors and doctors are ideal if you need medical or psychological support. But if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, there are plenty of local support groups who specialise in helping women through postnatal depression. If you decide that support groups aren’t for you, opening up to a friend or family member can be just as helpful. If you know any other mums, they’ll be able to offer you sound advice, too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s likely that they’ve been through something similar, so don’t be afraid to open up. Most women who go through postnatal depression feel an overwhelming sense of isolation. This means that, unfortunately, many don’t speak out about their feelings and suffer in silence. It is important to override this feeling of loneliness as much as possible, and find people who are able to support you.
Make Time for You
When you become a parent, it can feel like your only purpose in the world is to look after your child, and that you have lost the life you had before you had your baby. But it’s important to remember that you’re an individual as well as a parent, and that you can still make time for yourself. You might feel rushed off your feet, but by making time for friends and family, you can enjoy the company of your loved ones, helping you to feel less isolated. Finding time to be by yourself can be helpful, too. If you can organise a sitter even for just an hour or two, this gives you the chance to relax and unwind with your favourite home comforts, whether that means watching a funny TV show or delving into a new book. Having time out will help you to feel rested. Taking up a hobby or setting yourself a manageable goal, like learning a new skill, anything from cross stitch to playing an instrument, will also help you to feel better. By achieving something like this that’s separate to your family life, you will feel more positive and empowered.
It’s no secret that, if you eat well, you will feel well. By consuming healthy, natural fats and protein based meals, you will start to see a difference in your mood. By eating dishes that contain high-energy protein, like oily fish and filling vegetables (for example avocado), you will feel more energised. Everyone should treat themselves, but there are certain things you should avoid where possible. Many new mums avoid alcohol if they breastfeed, but it’s advisable to avoid drinking if you’re feeling vulnerable after having a baby, anyway. Alcohol is essentially a depressant, so it is likely to make you feel much worse overall if you drink regularly.
It might sound simple, but if you exercise regularly, you will start to feel healthier, both mentally and physically. In their study, Be Active and Become Happy, researchers Kanning and Schlicht found that participants felt content, awake, and calm after periods of simple exercise. On the other hand, participants who did not exercise had a low mood. What’s more, by taking up regular exercise, you will be able to socialise more. Plenty of new mums take up new sports and exercise classes in their local areas, so you won’t be alone if you take up something new. A popular choice among new mums is to take their little ones to local swimming classes. Here, your baby will be able to flex their muscles, and you will also get a gentle work out. By supporting your baby in the water taking part in gentle, water-based exercises, your bond with your baby will grow and you’ll get to keep fit, too.
Get the Help You Need
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you talk to someone about what you’re going through and introduce approaches into your daily life that will make you to feel positive. From strengthening the bond between you and your baby, to offering you both some gentle exercise, there are so many benefits swimming lessons can offer you. More than anything, if you are going through postnatal depression, remember that you’re not alone. Many women experience postpartum mood disorders, so make sure you speak out and get the support you deserve.
About Puddle Ducks
Puddle Ducks teach independent swimming from birth, strengthening
bonds between parents and children across the UK.
This post contains references to infant loss and hyperemesis gravidarum, and may be upsetting for some.
Elation – that’s what you will feel when you give birth so you can forget about the nine months of HG sickness, depression and anxiety, the bleeds and fluid loss; not to mention my baby not moving regularly. This was just the start of my journey.
I had lost two babies previously, got pregnant by accident with the third and could never bring myself to acknowledge that I was pregnant – I was filled with anxiety and worry and a sense of loss that I would most definitely give birth to another dead baby. This was teamed with a sense of guilt and horror of my previous miscarriages. I didn’t get help to move past them, and with the awfulness of wanting to just be dead because I felt so ill during this pregnancy, it played with my mind body and soul and there were times when I just didn’t want to be, let alone have a baby.
And that is reality of PND – I would never think that it was real, so I tried to carry on with my normal life of working in the city of London; being sick on numerous platforms and on people on the tube, fainting and getting carted off to hospital at least every week so they could pump me full of vitamins and fluid just to get my arse out of bed of a morning. I looked pregnant but never felt the joy of it. To me it was just a horrific process that was going to end in tears and heart ache when I’m told again I won’t be taking a baby home.
And that stuck to me. I didn’t pack my bag until the last minute and took minimal items for the baby. I never actually considered names seriously, I took no part in putting the room together and placed only small baby clothes in the drawers, still in their packets as I just couldn’t see how this was ever going to happen.
I suffered with HG (hyperemesis Gravidarum). I have many stories about how this made me want to just curl up and die. Now, looking back, the thing was I had the nose of a trained police dog – I could smell what you had eaten or drank days before. On one occasion on the tube it all ended in carnage: Contestant number 1, who smelt like they had been drinking after work (very jealous). This made the bile enter my throat! Contestant number 2 who clearly worked in a Chinese restaurant made me want to smash down a chicken chow mein but that brought the bile and food up into my mouth. Contestant 3 who had their armpit in my face just smelt of complete and utter smelliness and the sick was there ready to go – then Contestant 4 got on the train and smelt like a smoking room. Now, I liked the smell of smoke during my pregnancy as I was an ex smoker but this was enough for me to projectile, exorcist style, over a whole carriage of people. Now don’t get me wrong, I would be angry, but the abuse I got meant I just had to get off the train. It started and didn’t stop and I wildly shouted back “I’m pregnant, you idiots!” as the train pulled off. I retreated to being sick at the end of the platform and was swiftly told to remove myself and asked how much I had been drinking! (I wish) “I’m pregnant,” I kept saying and was escorted to the police office were I proceeded too cry and tell them I need an ambulance not police to arrest me as was about to faint and could not stop being sick in the tube station bin!
These type of incidents happened often and got me down down down to the point I just didn’t want to be pregnant, but I got filled with guilt because of the losses I had suffered before.
I was told at 25 weeks there was a high chance I wouldn’t make it the whole way through and this thought just consumed me. It brought what I can only call the cloud of depression on me, and it stayed and rained on my parade 24 hours a day.
Laura was gone, she was a nothing; just an extremely sick mother-to-be who could not acknowledge the pregnancy let alone the birth. After two days of pain, drugs, crying, sickness, temperatures and pushing I finally gave birth to my baby girl but again coldly didn’t acknowledge her birth and started acting out of sorts afterwards – wanting to see my placenta, reverting to making jokes about the labor and telling them to stitch me up and do a good job.
PND had stolen my sense of identity. I didn’t know who I was and just could not acknowledge I was a mother. I could only see this robotic person who had to act happy through the dark cloud that had descended upon me. This was just the start of how PND took me into its arms and didn’t let go for two years, essentially taking me away from my Nellie and my family.
This is my journey, and my blog. Publishing this is to help in my recovery but also to educate and let everyone know out there the truth about Peri and Post natal depression and how real it is and just how that has taken over my life for the last few years.
I am a 34 year old normal working professional (well nearly back to work) who has been thrown head first into this unknown world of depression. Starting long ago when I lost 2 babies and building again when I was pregnant with Nellie and now I am ready to share my stories and journey in the hope that it will help others to seek help and reach out in their time of need.
Post and Peri Natal depression / PTSD and Anxiety is a dark dark place and is not always recognised as an illness but it is. It takes hard work, therapy, strength, highest highs and lowest lows to get to the point of recovery but it is achievable. Don’t feel alone – reach out and just say “I need help.” Easy for me to say now but I wish I did it sooner.
I want to ensure that you know this is a funny crazy and light hearted blog with some deep and dark emotions involved so please do not be offended or think bad of what’s written. It is the truth, it’s my story in my own words.
So to everyone who is going to follow me and my journey please read, cry and say goodbye to PND together with me!
As part of #PNDAW, Seven Seventeen are generously offering a three wick 500ml candle in their newest scent, Sea Kelp, as a fantastic prize.
Called ‘You Got This‘, their candles are hand poured to ensure even fragrance distribution and finished with cotton wicks to prevent ugly black smoke, presented in recycled glass pharmacy jars. £1 from every sale goes to PANDAS Foundation, to help us continue to support people through pre and postnatal mental illness.
As well as their fantastic candles in three sizes (perfect as gifts or treats), you can also subscribe to receive a monthly candle direct to your doorstep.
Click the Rafflecoptor giveaway below for a chance to win!
As part of the run up to our live Twitter Chat with Sarah Beeson MBE, she is kindly offering 3 signed copies of her book ‘Happy Baby, Happy Family‘.
With over 40 years hands-on experience of working as a health visitor, this book is full of the author’s secrets and tried and tested strategies on breastfeeding, sleeping, weaning, calming your baby and forming a secure attachment. Nurturing, practical and refreshingly honest, this book embraces the idea that one-size parenting doesn’t fit all, but with Sarah Beeson’s book to hand you have a best friend with great advice and a gentle approach to guide you through the first
Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win, and don’t forget to join us on twitter for the chat
Our friends at Little Magpies are very generously offering a piece of teething jewellery to one lucky winner, as part of their support for #PNDAW17.
Little Magpies stock teething & nursing Jewellery to soothe sore gums and keep little fingers busy. Safe for baby, stylish for mum. As a Friend of PANDAS, 10% of their profits are generously donated to us here at PANDAS, helping us support those going through pre and postnatal mental illnesses.
Enter via the rafflecoptor competition below – and don’t forget to follow them on twitter!
Win this fantastic FitBumpBox, as part of PND Awareness Week 2017. Brought to you by leading pregnancy & postnatal fitness expert Dr. Joanna Helcké, invited speaker at The Baby Showand at Body Power, the UK’s top fitness event, contributor to all your favourite baby magazines, award winner & co-chair of theGuild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Instructors.
A perfect prize for Mums-To-Be, or a gift for someone you love, enter the giveaway below for your chance to win!
Pamela is deputy in training for PANDAS SW London. As part of her recovery, Pamela used drawings and paintings as a way of expressing herself and managing how she was feeling. She has kindly agreed to share her art here.
I felt the need of support 9 months after my daughter. and then after my CBT treatment finished, I was still learning how to cope so I felt the need to express myself somehow and the best way for me to do it was through my hobbies I used to do before my daughter was born such as painting, drawing, dancing and exercise in general.
So these are my paintings/drawings, expressing myself.
I didn’t care if it was a masterpiece or how aethestic it was, I just needed to get rid of those negative thoughts and feelings about myself, others around me and even the world.
I felt more criticism than support from others so I was desperate to express myself.
I didn’t even plan or think an specific image to draw, I was just totally guided by my thoughts and my feelings at that moment.
I let myself go.
For mor information about PANDAS SW London, or any of our support groups, visit our groups page here.
Hannah is a PANDAS Volunteer, managing our volunteers, helpline, and support groups. A trainee midwife with knowledge and experience in mental health, she wrote this poem to show how PANDAS volunteers understand the emotions surrounding prenatal mental illness – and so reassure anyone reading that no-one needs to feel alone.
My small bump is growing in size,
If I said I was pleased, it would be a lie.
I first hear your heart beating, so clear and loud,
My heart feels nothing, I am certainly not proud.
My baby, so longed for, so wanted and meant to be,
I couldn’t feel more different and no one can see.
I’m scared, I’m resentful and I can’t tell a soul,
I know they would judge me, think I’m out of control.
I never knew how being pregnant would make me feel,
I don’t even want to admit that this is all real.
My family and friends can see I’m unhappy,
Maybe it is because I am constantly snappy.
This can’t go on, but where do I turn?
Is loving my baby something I can learn?
The midwife asked me if I was okay,
So I plucked up courage to say I wish it would all go away.
She told me there’s an illness called prenatal depression,
It is more common than you think but a taboo expression.
Its not my fault and it can be treated,
With the correct support it can be defeated.
I am not a bad mum for feeling this way,
So from the bottom of my heart I just want to say,
I can understand that you don’t feel good enough,
But you are not alone; PANDAS are here when it all gets too tough.
All our volunteers have been there before,
Your innermost feelings they will not ignore.
We will always be here to listen,
And somewhere along the way a ray of hope will glisten.
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