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Seven Seventeen PNDAW17 Giveaway

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!


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Bare Biology #PNDAW17 Giveaway

Bare Biology offers the The UK’s First 5-star Fish Oil. High quality suppliments, from a sustainable source, and bottled in the UK, their omega-3 suppliments are taiolored to the whole family.

As part of their support for #PNDAW17, Bare Biology are offering a Family Pack of their high-quality Omega 3 supplements.

The family back contains their Lionheart mini capsules, Superhero (for kids) and Bump and Glory (for pregnancy). 

Enter the giveaway (via Rafflecoptor) below!

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Win with Sarah Beeson MBE for #PNDAW17

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

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PNDAW17 Giveaway with Little Magpies

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!

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Win a FitBumpBox for #PNDAW17

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 Show and at Body Power, the UK’s top fitness event, contributor to all your favourite baby magazines, award winner & co-chair of the Guild 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!

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Self Expression – by Pamela Mesinas

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.


Picture 1 of 9


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.



My PNDAW17 Poem – by Hannah Gerken

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.


LISTEN – by Claire Kay

The following poem, LISTEN, was written using the words of hundreds of members of the group ‘Birth Story Listeners‘.

When Claire Kay ask them ‘if they could recommend one change to their care providers which might have lessened the severity of the trauma they experienced – what would it be?’ …



“Listen” please won’t you, don’t forget to explain. 
I know my own body, you don’t feel my pain.
Respect me with kindness, dignity, care, 
as if I was family, with compassion, and fair 

to all of us women; for us, this is new.
You may do this everyday, but we need staff who 
will support us, not interfere, hold back and wait,
not rush, shout or bully us, coerce us with bait 

of a healthy baby ,yes we want that too!
But we need more emotional care carers who 
understand we are human, not statistics, machines;
women with feelings, Mothers with dreams. 

Mind, body, souls who deserve your best care.
Listen to us women and just “be there” 
to support us when needed, speak honesty, truth; 
communication, respect choices, don’t soothe 

with false information, cover up, lie.
Speak to us clearly, look us in the eye. 
Believe us and trust us ’cause we are in charge.
We welcome your presence because birth is hard!

But we need more support from you cheer-lead us too, 
understand when we’re frightened, hope to win through!
We need less interventions less surgery, sweeps, 
better pain relief, privacy, less induction, belief 

that we can get through this; not watching the clock.
And by the way “no means no” when we tell you – stop! 
‘Cause this is “our” body, and “we” call the shots.
You may have the titles, you may know the lot 

but you don’t feel my feelings, you don’t feel my pain,
you don’t know my body, you don’t feel my strain.
Please don’t restrict me allow me to move! 
Give me choice of position, read my birth plan, exude 

a sensitive presence; be aware of my past, 
if I’ve had a bad time before… PTSD…at last…
we get to the crux of it, PTSD is real! 
The way you look after me, the way I ‘feel’ 

makes a mighty big difference to the way I’ll recover, 
how I bond with my baby, how I start out as “Mother.”
We know many traumas just happen, aren’t planned, 
emergencies, surgeries, blood loss …and

if these things do happen, please stay by our side; 
explain what just happened, hold our hands, wipe our eyes. 
And remember our partners – for we need them too.. 
don’t send them away, we need our loved ones who 

will be there when we leave here, they too may be scared, 
they too need compassion they too to be heard.
So “listen” just “listen”, when you do “really hear.” 
We trust you’ll remember this thank you kindly dear 

dear midwives and doctors, surgeons, GPs, 
anaesthetists, class leaders, feeding specialists, trainees.
Please do remember this, and if you do 
we’ll avoid the worst trauma, we’ll be Mothers who 

can start out with confidence, hope, not despair, 
less nightmares and flashbacks, tears, fears, guilt to bare 
for our lost birth experiences; soreness, bleeding, 
infection, distress, mental illness, un-healing 

wounds that remain in our minds, in our hearts.
Enable us, equip us, give us the best starts. 
And if we do suffer – please do not tell us to 
“put it all far behind us”, to “push on through 

with our new healthy babies,” that’s not all that counts,
for we matter too!
Hear our voice, hear our shouts!
PTSD awareness, raise up, make it known, 
then we’ll be more equipped, we won’t feel so alone.

So thank you for listening to this chapter, this verse, 
we trust you’ll take heed of this, take time to converse 
on your courses, in staff rooms, with family, friends;
for it’s time PTSD in Mothers ends! 



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Reflections – by Hannah Sturland

In the run up to PND Awareness week (4-10th September 2017) I’ve been thinking about how much has changed since I met with a team to film an interview about post-natal anxiety for the first PND Awareness Week last year.

The opportunity to participate in PNDAW16 came from my involvement with PANDAS Foundation (a charity supporting those with pre and post-natal mental health issues). PANDAS helped me to set up a local support group because I am determined to help others who suffer with pre and post-natal mental health problems. 

Since the interview I have seen counsellors, a hypnotherapist, completed a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I’m on the way to regularly practicing Mindfulness. I also finally agreed to take the anti-depressants that the doctor has been offering me since all this started.

All of the therapies that I have tried have had an impact in some way; teaching me how to recognise unhelpful thoughts and practices, giving me techniques to manage each day and helping me to be kinder to myself.

However, I’ve come to realise over the last year that whilst all these things are great and help me in their own way, the only person that can really help me is well, me.

That is a really daunting thought given that I’m not exactly a ‘glass half full’ kind of person.

It takes a lot of energy to get up and get through each day and the thought of having to do more than that; to recover, is overwhelming.

I know that I am lucky; I have a supportive network of a husband, family and friends who are helping me to be strong and see the positive in life. But the fundamental problem is that I don’t know who I am anymore. I’ve spent so long in the dark fog of depression just trying to survive each day that I’ve lost my sense of self and forgotten what it feels like to be well.

So this is the decision; do I remain someone who is only ‘okay’ but who is a bit lost and unhappy, or do I climb out of this hole, discover who I am now and crack on with living my life?

While the answer I want to choose appears obvious, I know it’ll be hard. I can’t decide to do this for my family, friends or even for my children. I need to want to do this for me.

I do.

I’m ready to get back to joy.

Please join me on my adventure and let’s see where we get to by PNDAW18!

H x



Hannah blogs about the ups, downs (and absolute craziness) of a recovery from severe PND and Anxiety, at PND To Happiness




On finding and losing my mind, after miscarriage and new motherhood

Please note: this blog post contains information about loss and may be upsetting for some.

Pregnancy and ‘having a baby’ was something I considered important to do at a particular age and stage of some unwritten ‘life plan’, and it was momentous for me and my partner to have decided to move on to a new untested part of our lives. My first pregnancy ending in miscarriage at 3 months pregnant kicked off a long period of depression. The physical miscarriage was not complicated as such. It was a ‘missed miscarriage’ which brings with it so much confusion; the foetus grew to eight weeks, but I still felt pregnant, and I only knew something wasn’t right when I started bleeding at twelve weeks. But the emotional attachment was not to the foetus, but to what the pregnancy meant to me.
I attended an event with some former colleagues while I was physically experiencing my miscarriage. I was off sick from work, but I was determined to carry on as normal. ‘What had I been doing recently?’ Well, for the last two months I had been suffering with constant nausea and retching and the crippling tiredness of early pregnancy. Though now I had nothing to show for it and to top it off a massive guilt that I had ever moaned about feeling so awful when all I wanted now was to still be pregnant. I couldn’t tell anybody what was on the tip of my tongue, what I had really been doing. I already felt like I was losing control. Entirely of my body, when of course it is not possible to control most aspects of fertility and pregnancy, but also of my mental stability. I felt like a failure.
I was certain that falling pregnant again and having a baby would cure my depression. So that was the plan. But I was wrong.
Falling pregnant again seemed like it took an age, but in fact must have taken only four or five months. When I fell pregnant and felt all those familiar symptoms of nausea and sickness and bone-aching exhaustion, it felt imperative to drag myself on as normal as much as possible, in case it didn’t last. I had an early scan at the same age of gestation that the first foetus had stopped developing, and it allayed my fears a little. But I lived in denial. I got bigger, and I hated people asking me so many questions: it didn’t feel real. I didn’t allow myself to trust that I was going to have a baby. I went through the motions of antenatal scans and appointments, of booking my maternity leave from work, of obtaining the absolutely practical bare essentials. But I approached it unlike anything before in my life. I am usually organised, I love planning, for instance I thoroughly research forthcoming trips and events to lend me a sense of the familiar when I am placed into a situation. Yet I did not read up on childbirth, motherhood, babies, parenting… that was out of character for me and it was a mistake.
I had no idea that labour could last for six days, until it did. I had no idea that after those exhausting six days and having pushed the baby out, I would not get to rest. The baby needed feeding. The baby needed holding. I would not get to rest for more than a few hours at a time for weeks. I didn’t know before that all the exciting(!) new things that you get stuck into and learn about with a new baby – such as feeding (ouch!), burping, sleeping, changing nappies, clothing – are done in survival mode, with heavy sleep deprivation, with no time or energy or patience to read or understand anything in depth.
Coupled with a constant sense of dread. The overwhelming sense of responsibility. The loneliness as a new mum in a new area with no ‘mum friends’ (and the first of my close friends to have a baby). It was all such a shock.
I was breastfeeding exclusively because it was the ‘right’ thing to do, it was hard-won so I needed to keep at it, it was part of my identity now, so I thought. But I was also sure that once the baby had weaned and stopped breastfeeding, I could leave. My partner was doing a much better job of loving our baby and enjoying her. Once I was no longer giving her sustenance, it would be okay, because I would leave. They would be better off without me. 
This is surprisingly difficult to write, because I truly, honestly believed all this in the core of my being. I wasn’t suicidal – I was going to bugger off to start a new life in the Highlands or somewhere and never become a mother because I was so bad at it. I genuinely thought this would happen and would be the solution.
The other intense and impossible desire was the sense that this was a trial run. Okay, I’ve given it a go with this baby, and it’s not worked, so take her back, please. Maybe one day I’ll be ready to try again, but I’m doing a crap job of this, and she’d be better elsewhere, so let’s start from scratch another time. Another example of distorted brain-scrambled nonsense in hindsight, but it was a pervasive belief. These strange fantasy ‘decisions’ sound fanciful and unhinged, and they were. I wasn’t in denial about my depression as such, I just thought this was how it was now. I accepted depression as part of my personality – I’d had depression as a teenager too so I put it down as inevitable and innate.
For a long time, I thought every new mum felt like this. I couldn’t fathom how they could not. It took me over a year, maybe longer, to tell close friends. Talking about it helped. I wasn’t sure whether to label it as postnatal depression (PND) as I’d been feeling so low for over a year beforehand, triggered by the miscarriage. In hindsight of course it was undiagnosed pre- and postnatal depression. Attending a support group for women with postnatal depression really helped, and it turns out a lot of them had exactly the same ‘certainty’ about the ludicrous escape plans they were plotting as well!
A few years on, we decided to have another baby. A decision tinged with happiness and fear. I fell pregnant straight away and miscarried days after the positive test, but it didn’t matter that time. A ‘chemical pregnancy’. The depression didn’t creep back. I fell pregnant again within months. Being pregnant again was hard: the sickness and nausea was even tougher to grapple with around a toddler. But the depression didn’t come back. Baby was born and we were exhausted and he spent the full first year of his life waking us up at night! But the depression didn’t creep back in.

I felt ready to share my story because I have felt low recently, but it feels different. Grumpy, stressed, but not spiralling end-of-the-world sadness. I used to feel the Mega Fear every time I felt teary and run-down thinking This Is It: It’s Back. But I don’t feel that when I feel a bit low now. Depression does go away. I can’t pinpoint when it left me, or exactly why. Recovery is an ongoing thing: I keep tabs on my mood, but that’s okay. A myriad of factors may or may not kick off depression. Pregnancy and miscarriages and babies and studying and work and family and friends might trigger some deep low point in your life, but they might help pick you back up, too.
Find more from Ellen by following her on twitter @nellefant

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