Hundreds of parents across Hull, East Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and York receive help and support for perinatal mental health issues each year. Read Nicola's story below, she has shared her experience about the help she received from the perinatal mental health team.
After having my first child and not suffering with postnatal depression, why would having my second be any different?
My second pregnancy was unplanned, but very wanted. My pregnancy was very tough. I was in and out of hospital, I needed growth scans and there was a risk I would go into labour early. However, we made it to 37 weeks and my baby was born weighing a tiny but healthy 5lb. As soon as she was passed to me I knew something didn't feel right. Where was that rush of love I had with my first? Why can I not make eye contact?
When I was taken to the ward I spoke to a midwife who was there to look after me and do a checklist I guess. I cried the whole way through it. Even though the midwife was lovely, she told me it was tiredness - it had been a long few days. Yes, I thought maybe it was.
For the first few weeks I don't remember much except feeling like a rabbit in headlights.
With my baby being small I had midwife appointments for a few weeks after the birth. When they were doing their checklist again I started crying. The midwife told me it was very normal to feel like this with hormones and lack of sleep. She then asked if I had any other feelings I wanted to talk about? Surely I can't tell her I can’t look at my baby? Or that I don't think I like her? What would the midwife say to that? No, I was too embarrassed to say that, I told her I was "fine".
Weeks and months were passing, I was horrible to live with. I was always crying. I didn’t like my baby. I loved her but I didn’t like her. I couldn't play with her; I didn't want to. My partner could sense things were tough for me and suggested calling the GP, which I did. It was however, in the middle of the pandemic and the GP told me everyone was feeling like this and things were tough for a lot of people at the minute. She then referred me to IAPT.
As much as the IAPT service was fantastic, it just was not for me especially having 2 children at home and being in the middle of the pandemic. I didn’t think it was helping me. I needed different help instead of a talking service. I was VERY low at rock bottom even.
Out of nowhere another GP from the same practice contacted me; she had seen my notes and wasn't happy with the treatment I had been prescribed. I was referred straight away to the perinatal team. Thank God – some help.
Waiting for my appointment was such an anxious time. I was getting worse week by week and I knew I needed the help but what if these people judged me? Maybe they might think my baby needs a better mum? I was very wrong.
In a matter of a few weeks, I had a full team of support. A nursery nurse, occupational health, psychologist all worked with me in such an amazing way. I could tell these people exactly how I felt and I wasn't judged, they just tried to help me. They knew I wanted to be a better mum and work at my relationship with my baby. Over the period of nearly 16 months, I saw a member of the team each week. I was so lucky. As I came to the end of my journey with the team I felt like a different woman. I learnt how to deal with the feelings of anxiety, how to play and interact with my baby, and how to deal with having a strict routine what was nearly taking over my day.
I am now no longer under any mental health service. Even though I can still struggle with my anxiety and depression, I keep up with my medication and still use the strategies that I learnt from the perinatal team.
I hope my story can give other mums the courage to speak up if they are struggling. You will not be judged. The perinatal team are there to help you and your baby. Mums, you are not alone.