As maternal mental health awareness week comes to an end, I wanted to share a little (a lot?!) & encourage those that are suffering to seek support. .
My husband said to me this morning ‘thanks for growing her’ as I fed Esmé in bed before he left for work. My response was ‘I grew them all. And it was awful’.
Whilst I feel incredibly fortunate to have my beautiful children, & very lucky (yes lucky, no one creates this for themselves, it’s plain bad luck to get an illness of any kind) to not have suffered with PND, I undoubtedly experienced AND with all three.
AND – Antenatal depression, is rarely spoken about. Perhaps similar to PND, feeling low during a time that many expect you to feel at your ‘happiest’ & ‘luckiest’ left me feeling wracked with guilt. The culmination of hormone imbalances creating this depression, a physically very difficult pregnancy and a previous miscarriage all massively affected my quality of life during my last pregnancy.
At 21 weeks pregnant I visited my midwife. I cried. I cried when I told her how sick I was. I cried when I told her how much pain I was in. I cried when I heard my baby’s heart beat. I cried when I was asked why I was crying. I cried at everything. That’s when things started to turn around. That’s when I started to get support.
From this appointment on, my midwife saw me weekly until I was in a better place. She referred me to our local perinatal mental health team (who are incredible) and I received regular support, which saw me through until Esmé was 1 year old. I was allocated a therapist who saw me at home and checked in how I was doing. She spent time discussing my birth options (following previous emergency caesarean & difficult vbac), my feelings around this & ensuring I felt supported during what was a pretty horrible time in my life. I even feel guilty now describing my pregnancy in this way, because I know how ‘lucky’ I am. However I wasn’t ‘lucky’ to be so incredibly unwell for 9 months of my life!
I was able to access ongoing support if I needed it. Knowing this support was there likely saved me from experiencing postnatal depression.
I talked a lot. Mostly to my friends. My close friends quite literally held me up during this time. My physical difficulties at times made it the equivalent to taking your Nan out, but they still did it. They offered me patience, kindness, understanding and love. This again likely saved me from continuing to suffer afterwards.
Why am I sharing this? To spread the word that you are not alone. There are many of us who have experienced this or are currently going through it.
In the same way I would encourage you to seek breastfeeding support, please seek support with these feelings also. You absolutely deserve this support and this is available. Speak to your midwife, health visitor, GP or whoever you feel you can. As an IBCLC sometimes it is us that you talk to and we can signpost you to further support.