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?

Cuddle Fairy

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