All posts by Amy Tubb

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.

Charlotte’s story

I feel the fear of having your baby taken away is a real worry for new mothers with mental health problems.

Charlotte’s story (Cardiff)

Following the birth of my son in 2012 I felt very unwell mentally. However, because Wales’ only mother and baby unit (MBU) in Cardiff was closed, I faced being admitted to an adult psychiatric ward without my baby. At that point, I completely broke down and said I was going nowhere without my child.

Hallucinations and paranoia

Following this event, I started to be treated at home. Sadly, things took a turn for the worse and I began to experience hallucinations and paranoia. At one point, I was listening to a news broadcast on the radio and heard a voice say, “Charlotte, I’m talking to you. Get them men out of your house. They’re going to hurt you and your baby.”

I got up, ran to the kitchen and started to shout at my husband, saying that I wanted him out of the house because he was going to hurt me and my baby. Richard told me that the radio wasn’t even on. That it was unplugged. It was frightening stuff. Horrible.

Treated for 18 months

Eventually I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, and went on to be treated for it at home for one and a half years. If the MBU in Cardiff had still been open, it’s possible my condition could have been treated in around 12 weeks.

This is why I’m determined to get the unit reopened. Women need it. They should never have to face the possibility of being parted from their children to get the support they need. The fear of having your baby taken away is a real worry for new mothers with mental health problems, so a lot of them suffer in silence which leads to problems becoming more severe.

 

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.

Lyn’s story

My participation in the Everyone’s Business campaign is a way I can honour the loss of Rebecca and try to make things better.

Lyn’s story (Kent)

Losing my beautiful daughter, Rebecca, to perinatal suicide came as a complete shock. She had no history of mental ill health and no problems. She had everything to live for, and yet she took her life. What chance then do mothers with existing mental health difficulties or a previous history have?

We must learn from this and better support mothers by detecting the first signs of not coping earlier and preventing this from escalating. 

Making a difference together

As a family, I can’t begin to describe the trauma and loss we have felt. It is so desolating and knowing that Rebecca can’t enjoy her baby son growing up is incredibly difficult. That’s why it was such a great relief to come across the Everyone’s Business campaign and become a champion for the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. 

By campaigning alongside other people with similar experiences, I feel like I’m doing my part to ensure that all women in the UK who are affected by perinatal mental health problems receive the care they and their families need, no matter what their level of need is or where they live. 

End unnecessary suffering

For me, my participation in the campaign is a way I can honour the loss of Rebecca and try to make things better. I want to ensure essential information is shared and vital services across the care pathway are funded so the unnecessary suffering of mothers, their babies and families is avoided.

 

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.

First Minister announces more than £50m funding boost for perinatal and infant mental health services

On 6th March, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, visited the mother and baby unit (MBU) at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, Scotland, where they announced that more than £50m is to be spent on improving access to perinatal mental health (PMH) services.

Following the funding announcement, the National Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for PMH launched their needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish Government, and Women and Families Maternal Mental Health Pledge, which was developed in partnership with Maternal Mental Health Scotland Change Agents.

Continue reading First Minister announces more than £50m funding boost for perinatal and infant mental health services

Hazel’s story

Everyone throughout the UK should have access to the services they need, no matter what their postcode is.

Hazel’s story (Falkirk)

Following the birth of my second baby, I experienced postnatal depression. But in the Fife area, where I was living at the time, there were no services to support me. After I asked my GP for help, I was given anti-depressants and sent away. The effect of this was that my attachment to my son suffered and I struggled with mental health problems for the next six years.

When I had my third child, everything was different. As I was now living in the Forth Valley, and was registered as high risk, I was supported by a great health visitor and NHS Forth Valley’s perinatal mental health team, and I could easily access Aberlour Perinatal Befriending Support Service.

A different experience

Aberlour basically changed my life. I built up a great relationship with a befriender, who I trusted 100%. She helped to boost my confidence as a parent, showed me it was okay to talk about my worries, and provided me with lots of practical mental health tips. I also found talking through things with the perinatal mental health team a huge help, and they provided me with coping strategies.

Having access to these wonderful services means my mental health has improved a lot. I now have a great attachment to my children, and life, in general, is not as much of a struggle as it was.

Equal access for all

I do know, though, that I only got the care and support I needed because I’d moved to the Forth Valley – a situation that isn’t right. I think everyone throughout the UK should have access to the services they need, no matter what their postcode is.

Much more must be done to make perinatal mental health teams available in people’s local areas. Maternity staff, GPs, health visitors and nurses all need to be educated more about perinatal mental health, the signs to look out for, and who they should refer women and their families to. These steps would change so many lives.

 

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.

Clare’s story

I couldn’t sleep, even when the baby slept, and during my daughter’s ninth week of life I didn’t sleep for three nights in a row. At this point, my community psychiatric nurse suggested, “A wee stay in the mother and baby unit”.

Clare’s story (Glasgow)

During my pregnancy with my daughter, I felt very little – no excitement, no anticipation, no fear. I was mildly concerned about this, so I mentioned it to my midwife, who referred me to my local perinatal mental health service. There, a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) helped me understand that I didn’t have to be excited but made it clear that support would be available after the birth, if I needed it.

I felt no peace

My labour was long, and eventually I had an emergency caesarean. This experience, coupled with the total shock of being responsible for this little human, meant I quickly became very anxious and hypervigilant. As a result, I couldn’t sleep, even when the baby slept, and during my daughter’s ninth week of life I didn’t sleep for three nights in a row. At this point, my CPN suggested, “A wee stay in the mother and baby unit”.

At the unit, I lived from hour-to-hour, taking medicine, doing baby massage, going for walks and talking to the nurses about the journey I was on. I also had visits home, but I found these terrifying. Although I didn’t want to be in the unit, I didn’t want to be home too. I didn’t want to be anywhere. I felt peace nowhere.

Fabulous, ongoing support

After five weeks, I finally did go home, which was followed by a year of care from the community team at the perinatal mental health service. This involved weekly visits from a CPN, who offered me lots of reassurance and talked about what I wanted to talk about. All of these things allowed me to build a relationship with my daughter, which is so precious to me now.

Today, six years on, I’m extremely thankful for the fabulous care I received from the perinatal mental health team at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. My positive experience is something I’d like to use to help other women and families because across Scotland there is a huge disparity in perinatal mental health services. I hope that the promised funding for perinatal and infant mental health services in Scotland will make a big difference to women and families.

 

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.