Pregnancy anxiety is not something that is mentioned regularly but it is something so many mums go through. There is a bit of a conspiracy that says we all have to glow and sail through pregnancy but that is not realistic. Everyone will have their bad days and some will be hit by perinatal illness.

Pregnancy

Jo has kindly shared her story in the hope it will help other mums.

Jo’s story

“Seeing those two lines appear on that fateful pregnancy test is the moment most women dream of, that moment you know that something special has begun and knowing deep down things won’t ever be the same again.

I remember that Sunday morning like it was yesterday and feeling that tingling in my tummy, after feeling seriously broody for quite some time and being a loving ‘ Auntie’ to my best friends two wonderful little boys, I was looking at a pregnancy test that said positive, my time had finally arrived.

I was lucky enough to escape the morning sickness, I had nausea but was never actually sick which made it easier to keep quiet at work, I remember thinking about the little secret I was carrying which was all going well till about 9 weeks into my pregnancy, looking back that’s when it started.

Perinatal illness

I was having the most awful cramping pains and tmi moment losing funny coloured discharge so my GP sent me to an Early pregnancy unit to check me out incase I was having a miscarriage, thankfully I wasn’t but from then I was never quite the same about my pregnancy .

Anxiety started to rear it’s rather ugly head and I became paranoid about everything, what I ate, what I used and I would check everything thoroughly. Although at the time I wasn’t noticing how much it was taking over apart from later on when I had been diagnosed, looking back sometimes it was ridiculous, I remember trawling the Internet searching for information all because I had eaten a small amount of a pesto pasta salad that had parmesan on and I didn’t realise until I’d eaten it and was terrified I’d hurt my baby or that I refused to take gaviscon to help with the horrific heartburn I suffered at the end of my pregnancy for the same reason.

It didn’t help that at the 20 week scan, the sonographer was concerned about his growth so I was referred for several growth scans.

Anxiety in pregnancy

I reluctantly told my work colleagues I was pregnant at around 15 weeks and I felt so guilty towards my unborn baby, he was so wanted and loved but I was just so terrified to tell anyone incase something happened to him, I hated not being in control of my emotions as deep down I knew this wasn’t me but I just couldn’t see any other way.

I was diagnosed with perinatal anxiety in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy after my mum decided enough was enough. It was heart breaking because I so wanted to be that mum who was loving showing off her growing bump and looking around the shops for cute baby clothes, buying the pram set I’d researched and admired but it was such a struggle, I didn’t buy anything until the 8th month of my pregnancy because I truly believed that my baby would never become a reality, that something would happen during birth and I would never hold him, I was paranoid about his movements and had many visits to the antenatal baby clinic to check him out and thankfully each time he was and hearing his heartbeat soothed me for a while but then a simple comment from a colleague such as “ oh you have a lovely little bump” could send my thoughts into panic mode that my baby was too small and something was wrong.

At the booking in appointments, postnatal depression is spoken about and I was ready to look out for the signs as we have a family history of it, but I had never heard of anxiety during pregnancy. I think it should be discussed and more support given to those who suffer from it, I was offered drugs but because of my fears I refused to take them and i was also referred to a perinatal anxiety team but it really late in my pregnancy so I didn’t get the best out of the support, I think if I’d had the help earlier , it would have been easier to cope.

Looking forward positively

My son is 6 months old, healthy and developing well. Although the anxiety is still present, especially for the first few months of his life I was terrified about milestones because if he didn’t do something when all the books said that he was supposed to I was scared that he wouldn’t ever do it, as my very supportive health visitor and my mum said “he hasn’t read the books, he doesn’t know he’s supposed to be doing something and he isn’t the baby in the books” which is so very true because he’s reached them all in his own time.

I’m coping a lot better but new situations such as taking him to baby sensory classes are a little daunting but I really wish that the topic would be spoken about to help remove the stigma around mental health issues in pregnancy.”

You can read more of Jo’s story on her blog at  www.midlandmummyuk.wordpress.com 

Check out the film on the PANDAS Facebook page along with other useful posts on the signs, symptoms and treatment of pre and postnatal depression.

Get involved in the online conversation using hashtag #PNDAW17 and tagging @Pandas_UK in each post.

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Child-free flights are on the wish list for British travellers.

Child-free Flights

Any parent knows that travelling by plane after having children is a very different experience. It can be challenging to entertain children on long flights. They may be sleepy and irritable.

I confess to waiting years before going on a plane with my children as even the thought of it made me anxious. I did not want to face the frowns of other passengers if my children behaved less than perfectly.

A new poll of 2000 Brits has revealed that a staggering 52% of us would opt for child-free flights given the opportunity. The survey carried out by HolidayHypermarket.co.uk found nearly 30 % of respondents cited noisy children and crying babies as the biggest annoyance you could experience on a plane.

Other bugbears were people encroaching on your personal space and drunken passengers

When it came to suggestions for flight improvements, 56% would pay for more spacious seats with only 27% saying they would pay extra for better food and drink.

Holiday Hypermarket representative Ian Crawford says “It’s not just children that annoy others on planes and that’s clear from the finding of our survey. It’s a tough call – many travellers have every sympathy with parents of noisy children and I’m sure there are plenty of people who would like to see family-only flights introduced as well. There have been talks of child-free flights for a while now and with some airlines introducing child-free zones, it’s good to see some compromise.”

So what do you think? Should we celebrate babies and children in any environment? Would you pay extra to secure an adults-only flight? Perhaps you have had a negative experience where an adult was at fault? I would love to know what you think so please leave a comment.

Mum Muddling Through

Postnatal depression is something that we need to talk about openly and honestly. It is not uncommon and is a real threat to the wellbeing of mums and their families.

It was never mentioned in my ante-natal classes which seems madness to me because it meant that when I got it I did not have a clue what was wrong with me or how to find help.

Postnatal Depression

PANDAS

Today marks the beginning of Pre and Postnatal Depression Awareness Week 2017 and I am proud to be an official supporter of the week. Pandas is the foundation that offers support to those going through the very real challenges and trauma of pre and post-natal depression.

Postnatal depression and me

I had the usual baby blues with my first child and my husband often says I had post-natal depression with him. This goes to show how people cannot get in our head because although I was sleep-deprived with my first son, I managed OK and saw joy in him. This was not the case with my daughter who I certainly loved but I was aware all was not well. I could get very freaked out by simple things like ants crawling around and I wanted to live in darkness with the curtains closed. I did not engage with  my daughter properly and would just do the minimum and sit staring at her wondering what my role was and why I could not do it. My parents would come to pick up my son to help out and they would go on days out leaving me at home feeling abandoned. Like so many mums, I said nothing about my struggles. If anything I put on an act that everything was fine and would hide things. For example, I would know what time my husband came home from work and do a quick bath of my daughter and open the curtains so he did not know that I was living in darkness day in and day out. Personal hygiene nose-dived and housework just seemed totally overwhelming.

My big mistake

I did not seek help. I was fearful if anyone knew how I felt they would take my children away. I had a third child and was still depressed and did not even bond with this baby for a full 6 months. I felt there must be a way to feel better but could not work out what it was. Eventually years later I saw a GP who prescribed Prozac and before I knew it I started to recognise myself again, the real Kate with all her flaws, skills, qualities and individuality.

What would I like you to do?

Watch out for new mums and even not so new mums who just don’t seem very happy with their lot. They may just be having a bad day but they may be in the grip of pre or postnatal depression.

Check out the film on the PANDAS Facebook page along with other useful posts on the signs, symptoms and treatment of pre and postnatal depression.

Get involved in the online conversation using hashtag #PNDAW17 and tagging @Pandas_UK in each post.

If you would like to donate to PANDAS Foundation ensure they can continue to help support families affected by both pre & postnatal mental illnesses please text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 or visit their website for further information and support.

Did you experience pre or postnatal depression?

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Breastfeeding support online sounds like a very good idea to me so I am pleased to share a new resource with you.

Breastfeeding Support

An emotive topic

Breastfeeding is a topic that can be very emotive. I feel nearly every mum wants to feed their baby in the best possible way. Breastfeeding does not come easily to all of us and I know I gave up after 2 weeks with my first son and went straight to bottle-feeding with my other two children. This relieved a lot of stress and worry about the wellbeing of the children but on the other hand, I still regret not managing to breastfeed and know it was due to just not having access to breastfeeding support. I did not know what I was doing and found one midwife quite brutal when I was asking for help. In the end my husband went and got bottles and formula as he felt my emotional wellbeing was at stake.

Breastfeeding support

Today I have a guest post from Jackie Hall reflecting on the state of breastfeeding in the UK and highlighting what she is doing to help.

“I’m Jackie Hall, an Infant Feeding Coordinator for the NHS, Lactation Consultant, mother to three (grown up) breastfed babies and a passionate advocate of breastfeeding. So why the frustration?

Over the 20+ years I have been supporting breastfeeding women, I have seen so many women lose confidence with various aspects of breastfeeding and at various stages.

The issues at stake are enormous. A recent Lancet series produced a large analysis regarding levels and trends of breastfeeding around the world. This confirmed that breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for children and mothers, and can increase life expectancy too. It can reduce the risk of sudden infant death, diarrhoea, chest infections, ear infections, as well as type 1 diabetes. It appears to protect against obesity and diabetes in later life, along with many other substantial benefits. For mothers, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and more.

I am fully convinced that wherever you live in the world, breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventative health measures for children and mothers, and every effort should be made to offer all the information and support necessary to help mothers to do this.Most shockingly, I find that the Lancet revealed that the UK has the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world at one year of age.

What needs to change?

I understand that these are challenging times, but austerity has bitten deep and cuts in services in various parts of the country have often meant that it’s even harder for women to find the support they need.

We also need to continue to educate the public as to the laws of the land in regard to breastfeeding. On a weekly basis we continue to hear stories in the news of breastfeeding mothers turned away from public transport, asked to stop feeding their child in restaurants, and to cover up in public places. It’s a disgrace!

As well as one-to-one support for mothers, my role also involves training health visitors and their teams, children’s centre workers, and volunteer peer supporters with breastfeeding skills and knowledge to equip them to help breastfeeding mothers.

However, what I’ve come to realise is that the mothers themselves are still not always getting the information and support exactly at the time they need it, and many give up for the lack of this timely input – despite all of our best efforts, including my own additional services.

Many use the internet in their daily search for answers, and although the information is out there (and there are some great resources available), it can be difficult to know which sources of information are evidence-based, and current –there is much conflicting information out there. Forums can be a great source of advice, but again, there can be much in the way of conflicting information and uninformed opinions.

New breastfeeding resource

The good news is that things are changing. Yes, we have the worst rates in the world for long term breastfeeding, but I feel that the only way is up! Various groups and associations are working hard to provide the support needed, and people are looking at new and innovative ways of doing this, including myself.

So for the past year I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and have been working on a side-project which I hope will ‘fill in some of the gaps’ for breastfeeding mothers.

During World Breastfeeding Week, (1st – 7th August 2017) ‘The Breastfeeding Companion’ was officially launched – an online, free, video-based resource for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

It’s not a replacement for the one to one support so many mothers need, but it is an instant educational tool, which provides information in a friendly, easy-to-use way – using my specialist expertise and many years’ experience, in fact, using myself as the online ‘friend’.

Will it solve the breastfeeding crisis? Of course not. Will it offer reassurance to a frustrated mother in the middle of the night with a baby that just won’t latch?… I’m hoping so.”

You can check out so many supportive breastfeeding videos free of charge at the Breastfeeding Companion.

As I say breastfeeding is a very emotive topic and I was reassured when speaking with Jackie that she too had struggled with breastfeeding initially.

My point of view is that women should support each other as much as possible and like Jackie, I hope her free breastfeeding support online proves helpful to mums in the middle of the night when breastfeeding can feel a very lonely business indeed.

Did you get enough breastfeeding support?

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Confessions of a New Mummy