Real life stories

Our valued network of experts by experience includes mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents from across the UK whose lives have been affected by perinatal mental illness. They share their stories to help raise awareness of perinatal mental health, reduce stigma and influence positive change.

Meet our Lived Experience Champions:

Chrissy’s story

I felt pressure as a Black mum that I’d be judged and not listened to. I was scared my children would be taken away. Chrissy’s story (Kent) I was filled with anxiety after the birth of my second child. I was in tears all the time but reluctant to tell anyone. I felt pressure as … Continue reading Chrissy’s story

Eleanor’s story

I was assigned a perinatal mental health nurse and a nursery nurse, who worked with my baby and me on our bonding. It was invaluable being under their care. Eleanor (Bromley) The scariest part of my PND [postnatal depression] was the intrusive thoughts I had about harming my baby. I realised that this wasn’t just … Continue reading Eleanor’s story

Embroidery depicting a mother holding twin babies. The artwork was created by MMHA Champion Lynette as part of her recovery

Lynette’s story

Connecting with other women with similar experiences to mine has played a huge part in my recovery. Lynette (Lisburn) I had a traumatic experience when I gave birth to my twins in February 2020. This led to me missing out on our first bonding experiences but for the first few weeks I was okay and … Continue reading Lynette’s story

A photo of a young pregnant woman at her baby shower smiling for the camera and holding her bump

Natalie’s story

I do worry for other women experiencing perinatal OCD. Awareness and understanding needs to increase among healthcare professionals. Natalie (Barnsley) I became a mum for the first time at the age of 17. The birth was a traumatic experience which ended with me having an emergency C-section. Afterwards, I would constantly think that I was … Continue reading Natalie’s story

Mum of two Abi sat smiling into the camera, she looks healthy and happy

Abi’s story

It’s estimated that around 13% of expectant or new mums are living with an eating disorder. Abi (Edinburgh) In 2019, I was pregnant with my second child, feeling delighted, excited, and… utterly terrified. Why? Because since the birth of my first son, I had been battling an undiagnosed eating disorder that dominated every aspect of my … Continue reading Abi’s story

Mum of two Toni sat smiling at the camera

Toni’s story

It was horrific to have to travel 180 miles to the mother and baby unit and be so far away from my husband and son and everything and everybody I knew. Toni (Port Talbot, Wales) At around six months pregnant with my second child, I became severely depressed. Every day was a struggle to keep … Continue reading Toni’s story

Fatima’s story

“Explain more about what maternal mental health means because some people didn’t really care about their mental health until things started getting out of hand… I know most of us in our country, we don’t really care about mental health when you’re pregnant. So I think this is gonna be really helpful.” In this series … Continue reading Fatima’s story

Laura-Rose’s story

“With the right care, there will be more positive experiences and LGBT+ people will be more likely to reach out if they are struggling with their perinatal mental health.” Laura-Rose’s story (London) When my wife and I first started on our path towards parenthood, we struggled to find any LGBT+ women, people or organisations that could offer us guidance and support. This resulted in our journey being a difficult one and left us feeling very isolated. We had no one to talk … Continue reading Laura-Rose’s story

Woman sat on chair against a brick wall

Sandra’s story

“Black women are more likely to have postnatal depression but are less likely to access care or to be referred for follow-up treatment.” Sandra’s story (London) When I had my first daughter, I thought it was going to be the happiest time of my life, but I just felt this huge pressure to be the … Continue reading Sandra’s story

Leanne’s story

To the mum who puts on a brave face day after day when inside you are falling apart — please seek support. You are amazing and you deserve to be happy. Leanne’s story (Warwick) Before I had my son, I had a really naive view of mental illness, and I think I believed I was … Continue reading Leanne’s story

Michelle’s story

Michelle’s story (Belfast) Following the birth of my daughter, I had frequent and often crippling panic attacks. They would hit me out of the blue, lead to shortness of breath and I would think, “Oh my God, this is it, I’m dying!” To find a solution, I spoke to my doctor, learned CBT techniques and … Continue reading Michelle’s story

Photo of a woman in a pink top smiling

Michaela’s story

Michaela’s story (Belfast) Following the birth of my eldest daughter, who’s now six, I suffered with severe postnatal depression, psychosis and anxiety. Thankfully, I received support from the perinatal team including a psychiatrist, a mental health home treatment team, a psychologist at my local hospital and mental health nurses. I benefited greatly from this network … Continue reading Michaela’s story

Photo of a mum and son smiling at the camera

Jillian’s story

Jillian’s story (West Lothian, previously County Antrim) Whilst living in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy in February 2007. Because breastfeeding took a while to establish, we didn’t go home until four days after my son’s arrival. But everything seemed normal, perfect even, when we did return home. … Continue reading Jillian’s story

Gill’s story

Gill’s story (Aberdeenshire) Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is under recognised and under discussed. Many women find childbirth traumatic but have few outlets for these feelings and little opportunity to talk about their experiences, as the prevailing opinion seems to be “a healthy baby is all that matters”. I want to let other mums know … Continue reading Gill’s story

Lucie’s story

Lucie’s story (Surrey) There are no words to describe losing a sibling at such a young age; and this loss is even more tragic because I know with the right support my big sister’s passing could have been avoided. If she’d received the perinatal mental care she needed after her son’s birth, she would still … Continue reading Lucie’s story

Dani’s story

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 … Continue reading Dani’s story

Photo of Lindsey smiling

Lindsey’s story

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 … Continue reading Lindsey’s story

A photo of Charlotte with a sign that read #MBUWales

Charlotte’s story

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 … Continue reading Charlotte’s story

Photo of Hazel smiling

Hazel’s story

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 … Continue reading Hazel’s story

Clare’s story

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 … Continue reading Clare’s story

Elaine’s story

Elaine’s story (Chester) The birth of my son was very difficult. I had a retained placenta, which led to me haemorrhaging after he was born. A consequence of this traumatic experience was that I developed mild to severe postnatal depression, which eventually led to psychosis when my son was seven months old. Given electroconvulsive therapy … Continue reading Elaine’s story

Charlie’s story

Charlie’s story (Bridport) With all three of my children I struggled with perinatal mental health problems, including postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. During these extremely difficult times, I received excellent support from a number of specialist perinatal mental health professionals. They included those working at my Mother and Baby Unit, midwives, community psychiatric nurses … Continue reading Charlie’s story

Kirsten’s story

Kirsten’s story (Peterborough) The symptoms I showed during the pregnancy of my first child included OCD, general anxiety and low mood. I spoke to 11 different professionals before I started to receive help. This left me feeling exhausted, and I couldn’t understand why I had to tell my story so many times, and why I … Continue reading Kirsten’s story

Kathryn’s story

Kathryn’s story (London) My pregnancy sailed by in a buzz of baby shopping, scans and antenatal classes. All this changed less than 24 hours after our son was born. We had a very long and difficult labour, followed by a petrifying emergency C-section. We were then placed in the High Dependency Unit, but a few … Continue reading Kathryn’s story

Laura’s story

Laura’s story (Surrey/now in Southampton) When I fell pregnant, I had pre-existing mental health difficulties and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I was known to be high risk for postnatal ill health, but I received little support and few preventative measures were put in place. It seemed that the community mental health team and the … Continue reading Laura’s story

Maria’s story

I still have no memories of the first year of my daughter’s life. Maria’s story (Bristol) My first son was just one day old when he died in 2005. During and after my subsequent pregnancies I struggled with a number of mental health problems. With my youngest boy, I felt very anxious whilst pregnant, and … Continue reading Maria’s story

Jenny’s story

Admit how you are feeling, even if it is really hard. Jenny’s story (Belfast) Four years ago I had my second child. After he was born, I felt differently from how I had felt when his older brother had been born. Something wasn’t right. I felt depressed and struggled to bond with my new baby. I … Continue reading Jenny’s story

Raj’s story

Raj’s story (Berkshire) My wife developed stress-induced psychosis when she was nearly 30 weeks pregnant. At the time, she saw me as an antagonist, and due to her condition I was subjected to mental and verbal abuse as my wife’s perception of reality was affected. Our GP offered us no clear advice or counselling at … Continue reading Raj’s story

Jenny’s story

Money and resources need to be directed towards supporting women with mental health issues. Jenny’s story (Oxfordshire) I suffer from bipolar disorder and was treated with lithium. For five years my husband and I had raised with my psychiatrist the issue of us trying for a family, but she kept failing to find out about … Continue reading Jenny’s story

Ann’s story

Ann’s story (Hertfordshire) After my daughter’s birth I suffered from severe antenatal obsessive compulsive disorder [OCD] and lived with a crippling fear that something terrible was going to happen to her. At a time when I should have been enjoying being a new mum, I was gripped by panic and couldn’t even watch the news. … Continue reading Ann’s story

Peter’s story

Peter’s story (Newcastle upon Tyne) My daughter developed serious postnatal depression. Her condition deteriorated over a period of several months and culminated in a suicide attempt and a missing person’s search for two days. She had left me with her baby while she went ostensibly for a jog. When she failed to return, I raised … Continue reading Peter’s story

Joanna’s story

Joanna’s story (Exeter) Five days after the birth of my first child I experienced extreme anxiety and a sense of terror overwhelmed me. I was diagnosed with PND [postnatal depression], but I didn’t feel depressed, just incredibly anxious. I was prescribed antidepressants and gradually I started to feel better. But when I discovered I was … Continue reading Joanna’s story

Hannah B’s story

Hannah’s story (Bristol) After the birth of my son I developed mild postnatal depression [PND] and moderate anxiety. I suffered panic attacks and was fearful of being judged as a ‘bad mother’, as being incapable of looking after my child in the ‘right’ way. Despite regular visits to my GP, it was two years before I … Continue reading Hannah B’s story

Hannah’s story

Hannah’s story (Thirsk) I had a straight-forward pregnancy and gave birth to my first baby after an emergency c-section in 2009.When I started having irrational, racing thoughts and very strange behavior my community midwife sent me to my GP.  Things worsened and few days later, I saw a different GP who referred me to a … Continue reading Hannah’s story

Chris & Joe’s story

Chris’s story (Huddersfield) After my partner Joe suffered several miscarriages, we feared we would never be able to have a baby. But in 2010 we were delighted to welcome our beautiful daughter into the world. Joe was determined to be the perfect mother, but when she struggled to breastfeed, it led to feelings of severe … Continue reading Chris & Joe’s story

Becky’s story

Becky’s story (Dawlish) Two weeks after my baby was born I started suffering from severe postnatal depression [PND]. I began to have suicidal thoughts and couldn’t even look at my daughter or pick her up. The antenatal classes gave me unrealistic expectations about parenthood which I could not meet, and the attitude of one midwife … Continue reading Becky’s story

Sally’s story

Sally’s story (South Lanarkshire) I was diagnosed with severe postnatal depression [PND] after the birth of my second child in July 2013. The NHS only offered me medication and referred me to its Crisis team, who sent me home to listen to relaxation music. I was also told it would take 21 weeks on the … Continue reading Sally’s story

Photo of Lyn's daughter nursing her son in 2006

Lyn’s story

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 … Continue reading Lyn’s story

Michelle’s story

Michelle’s story (Bridgend) After the birth of my child I went into a downward spiral of thinking I couldn’t cope with having a baby. I was so distressed I was unable to sleep and even had to force myself to eat. I’d just had a son and desperately wanted to be happy, but I struggled … Continue reading Michelle’s story