All posts by Amy Tubb

Dani’s story

I was very fortunate that I was able to get the support that I needed.

Dani’s story (Belfast)

I felt great at the start of my first pregnancy. But at six to seven months I developed a liver problem and my blood pressure started to go up. I was put on tablets and believed, maybe naively, that everything was okay.

Then, during the birth of my daughter, I had an eclamptic seizure. I can remember the midwife pressing the red button, lots of shouting, the blue spinal board, and then waking up coughing, because of the tube in my throat.

“What I don’t remember are my first moments with my baby.”

Crippling anxiety

One month after I gave birth, I started to have flashbacks and recurring dreams about the seizure. I told my community midwife which led to me being monitored through watchful waiting. I then lost sensation down my right side and felt breathless, which led to me being admitted to hospital one week before Christmas. I was now separated from my 10-week-old daughter, which meant her breastfeeding was abruptly stopped.

“It was the worst Christmas ever.”

In A&E and on the ward I felt terrified and very anxious, but I assumed everything would settle down once I got home. It didn’t. I had crippling anxiety; my chest felt tight; I felt shaky and vomited; I didn’t want to be left on my own; and I continued to have flashbacks. I just didn’t feel like me and all my confidence was gone. Eventually, during the Christmas holidays, I contacted my midwife for help. Thankfully, I was referred quickly to a specialist perinatal mental health community team clinical psychologist who diagnosed me with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].

Taking back control

With the perinatal psychologist I started CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy], which involved doing mindfulness and breathing exercises, and using visualisation techniques. This helped me to rationalise my anxiety and break the cycle of negativity. It was the biggest part of my recovery, giving me back a sense of control.

Over time, my physical symptoms started to ease and the good days gradually increased. I then had a couple of appointments with my psychologist during my second pregnancy, which me helped a lot. But unfortunately, I did have another traumatic experience during the birth of my third child.

Once again, I turned to my perinatal psychologist for help. This time it was a lot easier to manage my symptoms because of what I’d learnt previously, and because I knew support was available.

“Sadly, though, I know my experience is the exception, not the norm.”

In 80% of Northern Ireland, women and their families cannot access specialist perinatal mental health services and we also don’t have a Mother and Baby Unit. I believe this must change, because I don’t know how I would have coped without the support I received.

 

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.

MMHA collaborates with iHV on PIMH conference #iHVPIMH19

This year’s Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) conference, in collaboration with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), will focus on the importance of good relationships in perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) care.

“We are delighted to collaborate with iHV on their second annual PIMH conference and look forward to welcoming delegates, hearing from those with experience of PIMH care and discussing opportunities to improve relationships and access to specialist services.” Clare Dolman, Vice Chair of the MMHA

Continue reading MMHA collaborates with iHV on PIMH conference #iHVPIMH19

Summer 2019 campaign e-bulletin out now

The Everyone’s Business Summer 2019 e-bulletin has all the latest updates from the Campaign, including details about:

  • Progress in England and the remaining challenges.
  • What’s happening with the £50 million in Scotland
  • How campaigners in Northern Ireland are making the case for specialist services.

Download now

Please share with anyone who may be interested, and if you are on Twitter retweet the e-bulletin from @MMHAlliance using #everyonesbusiness.

Don’t miss out

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For physical copies, email amyt@maternalmentalhealthalliance.org.

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

When is it?

10th to 16th June 2019.

What is it?

A week-long campaign organised by The Association for Infant Mental Health UK (AIMH UK).

This year’s topic is ‘Difficult Beginnings’.

What’s happening and how to get involved

AIMH (UK) will be sharing articles each day following a different theme, see full list on the AIMH (UK) website.

Join in the discussion on Twitter using #IMHAW19.

Positive steps taken in Scotland to improve access to inpatient care

In 2015, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland carried out a themed visit to find out how many women received care in a local adult acute ward, without their baby, during a period of perinatal mental illness. They found that just over one third of women were separated from their baby, sometimes for a prolonged period. In Scotland, it is a legal duty for Health Boards to provide joint mother and baby admissions. Continue reading Positive steps taken in Scotland to improve access to inpatient care

Political parties in Northern Ireland agree landmark maternal mental health Consensus Statement

We in Northern Ireland urgently request the commitment of investment and ring-fencing of funds required to ensure women, babies, families and communities get the care and support they need and deserve.” 
– Consensus Statement on the improvement of Perinatal Mental Health services in Northern Ireland

Despite the stalemate in Stormont, all political parties in Northern Ireland have co-signed a ground-breaking Consensus Statement, drafted as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Everyone’s Business campaign, committing to close the gap in specialist mental health provision for women during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.

England, Scotland and Wales have faced similar challenges with their specialist perinatal mental health services, but in recent years each have seen significant improvements due to specific and targeted investment. While stakeholders in Northern Ireland have shown support in principal, until now a formal commitment had not been made. Continue reading Political parties in Northern Ireland agree landmark maternal mental health Consensus Statement

NHS England announce specialist mental health support for new mums now available across England

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s (MMHA) Everyone’s Business campaign welcomes today’s announcement from NHS England about the opening of specialist perinatal mental health services in the remaining areas of England, meaning women should now be able to access life-saving care in their local area. Continue reading NHS England announce specialist mental health support for new mums now available across England

Lindsey’s story

Without doubt, we need a dedicated Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland and maternal mental health must be discussed at every hospital appointment and in antenatal classes.

Lindsey’s story (County Down)

I was a new, first-time mum with a five-month-old son when I found out I was nine weeks pregnant with twin girls. My husband and I got the shock of our lives, and throughout my pregnancy I experienced perinatal anxiety, as I was unsure how we would cope.

After the birth of the twins, my anxiety continued to grow. Life was really tough. I was constantly tired and chasing my tail to do the simplest of tasks. Thankfully, I started to reach out for help when I knew I could no longer cope.

Guided along the right path

My GP was a fantastic support to me, and helped me get back on track after I was diagnosed with perinatal anxiety and stress, and having panic attacks. My health visitor also referred me to a local Home-Start charity group. This led to a volunteer helping me with the kids and other practical stuff, as well as being someone who would just listen to my worries.

I also joined the Home-Start family group, which me and the kids continue to attend. This offers a great opportunity to meet other inspiring mums and talk to people who understand what I’m going through. And I can’t forget my family and friends, who were, and still are, absolute heroes because of the amazing kindness and unforgettable support they’ve shown me.

Much more support is needed

But I do know I’m extremely lucky. I managed to reach out, and I managed to receive the perinatal mental health support I needed. But there are many women in similar situations who feel they can’t speak out and ask for help. That’s why I want to do all I can to give them a voice and make sure they receive the support they need.

Maternity wards need informed perinatal mental health clinicians, so mums can quickly chat over their concerns and I believe dads need access to free courses on how to support the mental health of their partners.

Without doubt, we need a dedicated Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland and maternal mental health must be discussed at every hospital appointment and in antenatal classes.

There’s a lot we can do, and we need to do it now.

 

You can follow Lindsey on Twitter @elinshall.

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.

UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 2019

When is it?

29th April to 5th May 2019, organised by MMHA member the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP).

What is it?

A week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental illness during pregnancy or after having a baby and signposting to support for all mums. The focus is on advocating for mums affected by maternal mental health and helping them to access the information and help they need to enable recovery.

This year’s theme for the third annual UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week is Mums Matter.

How to get involved

  1. Highlight what your organisation does to support families affected by perinatal mental illness
  2. Join in with the daily activities listed below
  3. Use the #maternalmhmatters hashtag on social media when referring to the week

Continue reading UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 2019

Spring 2019 campaign e-bulletin published

The Everyone’s Business campaign Spring 2019 e-bulletin is now out, including details about:

  • Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of more than £50m for perinatal and infant mental health
  • London turning the map green
  • NSPCC NI’s new report saying it’s ‘time for action’

Download now

Please circulate far and wide and if you are on Twitter please retweet the e-bulletin from @MMHAlliance using #everyonesbusiness.

If you would like to receive the e-bulletins directly please sign up to our mailing list using the box on the right.