• When the Baby Blues go dark

    Post Natal illness isn’t a happy subject to talk about but as a PND Survivor and a Doula I believe it’s essential that mums to be and their families know the symptoms to watch out for and know how to get the support they need quickly and easily.

    First I want to talk about my personal experience, this time of my life is painful to recall. I had my little girl just over six years ago in early spring, the sun was shining, I’d had a long but normal labour with the support of a fantastic Independent Midwife, breastfeeding was going great on the surface all was well but I was not feeling sunny at all. I felt extremely anxious, I had a racing heart, feelings of despair and terror, lots of negative thoughts and I suffered from serious insomnia, by two weeks after the birth I was exhausted and a wreck! I did go see my GP but wasn’t happy with the option of taking medication (especially as I was breastfeeding) So I battled through, the symptoms lasted for about two years, I had some good patches but mostly I was just ‘getting on with it’ pushing the fear aside.

    When I was pregnant with my second child two years ago, I was convinced that the anxiety wouldn’t return as I was happy in my role as a mum. Again I had a great birth at home supported by the same Independent Midwife. At first I felt ecstatic but after a few weeks the anxiety crept back it, I felt there was part of me holding back, pausing, checking ‘really… do I really feel ok?’ .

    When my boy was 12 weeks the symptoms of PND returned, I was completely devastated, it was Christmas time I tried pulling myself together, but was completely stuck. For the next few weeks I tried lots of alternative and natural treatments and remedies to get rid of my symptoms – none of it worked. When my boy was 16 weeks I hit a crisis, and after an intense weekend which included hallucinations, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts I was admitted to Cardiff Mother and Baby Unit.

    We stayed there for 6 weeks until my symptoms were under control again and I felt safe enough to be at home. With advice from the doctors at the MBU and The Drugs in Breastfeeding helpline I decided to go on anti depressants, I was on them for 8 months in total it was always my intention to use them short time and this worked really well for me. Alongside treatment with anti depressants I had a super CPN (Community Physiatric Nurse) and had CBT (Cognitive Behavioural therapy) and group ‘Reducing Stress’ therapy. I also used Positive affirmations and deep breathing to aid my recovery.

    One of my fears about asking for help was that my babies would be taken away as I couldn’t cope, by asking for help I was taking responsibility that’s the opposite of being a bad mum.

    There are common signs of PND that you and your family can look out for, you may have one or more of the symptoms but its unlikely you will have them all.

    How you may feel

    • sad and low

    • tearful for no apparent reason

    • worthless

    • hopeless about the future

    • tired

    • unable to cope

    • irritable and angry

    • guilty

    • hostile or indifferent to your husband or partner

    • hostile or indifferent to your baby.

    You may find that you

    • lose concentration

    • have disturbed sleep

    • find it hard to sleep – even when you have the opportunity

    • have a reduced appetite

    • lack interest in sex

    • have thoughts about death.

    To help Mums in Carmarthenshire I’ve got together a list of resources about PND and the support you can get locally, If you think you have PND your first steps are

    • Phone your Doctor – Make an emergency appointment you don’t have to wait a week! If you can’t say it out loud write it down or get a partner/friend to come with you.

    • For out of hours/ at the weekend you can phone the GP clinic at West Wales General Hospital Switchboard: 01267 235151

    • Phone your Health Visitor or tell her how you are feeling when you have the 10 day/ 6 week check. Let her know you need some help

    If you don’t feel able to do this you can phone the Local Mental Health Services on these numbers

    Ammanford team 01269 595473

    Carmarthen team 01267 236017

    Llanelli team 01554 775299

    Llangadog team 01550 777771

    Emergency out of hours social services 01558 824283

    There is a South Wales Post Natal depression support facebook group


    West Wales Action for Mental Health has a Carmarthenshire Directory with loads of information of places you can get help


    There is a Mind Centre in Carmarthen http://www.mind.org.uk/help/mind_in_your_area/278

    And one in Llanelli http://llanelli-mind.org.uk/

    MIND is a national Charity with some information of PND

    Infoline 0300 123393


    If you are worried about taking Medication whilst breastfeeding The Breastfeeding network has a Drugs in Breastmilk helpline

    0844 412 4665


    If you need more help you could hire a Postnatal Doula www.doulauk.org or organised a Home start volunteer http://www.childreninwales.org.uk/inyourarea/parentingprojects/1964.html

    For the partners of Mums with PND there is the fabulous organisation Fathers reaching out


    In Wales we only have one Mother and Baby residential Unit which is located in the Heath Hospital Cardiff.

    Cyd Mother and Baby Unit

    Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Monmouth House, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XW

    Tel: 02920 744066 / 747747

    Yvonne O'Donnell, Ward Manager

    1 Comment

    • 1. May 9 2013 6:10PM by Lisa Casson

      Thank you for sharing with us Staci, PND and more wider mental health issues are so infrequently talked about - by the nature of the beast it's isolating, furthered more by the associated stigma that can still dominate.

      A really useful and important thing you mentioned by refering to the worse case scenario: "the fear of my babies being taken away", let's hope that the message translated here is by facing your fear, you're confronting it, and by reaching out dealing with it. These things rarely go away by themselves right .. for all the brave Momma's out there, access the help that's there and begin your road to recovery :)

      A lovely note and signposting for the forgotten Daddy's too x

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