Having a baby involves lots of changes and is a really tough job! Everyone needs support, yet we each need different kinds (and amounts) of support, as our needs are all different too. Asking for help can be difficult, so communication is a very important skill for new mummies to have – yet most struggle with. Now, even more so, almost a year on from our first COVID-19 lockdown, and there are c.250,000 mums in the UK who have either been on maternity leave, been pregnant, given birth or are currently pregnant, and are feeling the strain and extra pressure.
Common complaints from new mummies include a feeling of total overwhelm – how you must be seen as the best mummy, wife, friend, glam, fit – and all in similar quantities. There is a notion of ‘failing at motherhood’ if you’re not successfully keeping your Instagram up to date with your daily makeup and hair routines, latest matching mama and baby outfits, creative displays of baby led weaning photos, or tidy house hacks…
As I lay on the bed, both my partner and I were looking eagerly at the 42” TV screen opposite us on the wall, but all I could see… was nothing. A big blank womb where the baby should have been. I remember waiting and waiting and waiting. Squeezing my partner’s hand, I looked over to the sonographer waiting for her to say something… desperately praying she was going to say there was something wrong with the TV screen… or the signal… or something technical - anything other than what was about to come out of her mouth.
The silence felt like an eternity. I started to cry as it began to hit me that something was wrong – I knew from my past pregnancy you should be able to see a baby in there. My partner however, didn’t. He had no idea that there was anything wrong, until the sonographer finally said those heart-breaking words… “No, no, no, there’s no heartbeat”.
When a baby dies either in utero (in the womb) or after birth, the world loses a shining star and society is thrown into a kind of embarrassment for not knowing what to say to the grieving parents.
There are those who send flowers and cards simply saying, “I am sorry for your loss”. There are those who say nothing. There are those who are uncomfortable and simply don’t know how to act, so they push their uncomfortableness back onto the grieving parents with a throwaway comment like “well, at least you know you can get pregnant” or “you can always try again”. (Urgh… this is a whole other blog post in itself – what NOT to say to grieving parents after the loss of a baby!!)...
2020 has been a really funny one, hasn’t it?! It's been absolutely tragic and just devastating as we see more and more areas in the UK move into Tier 4. Covid-19 has taken over everybody's life in some way shape or form and yet for me, I honestly have to say 2020 has been one of the best years of my life...
Christmas 2019, I was 10 weeks pregnant and had hit my lowest point with major anxiety and depression. I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn’t go to work. I didn’t want to see friends or family. I couldn’t stop crying. All I could think about was reaching that 12-week scan. Praying and hoping that all would be well but I couldn't be positive, I feared the worst...
Until earlier this year I had never heard of the term ‘birth trauma’ however back in 2013, I did suffer from a traumatic birth which led to me being at home with my new baby girl recovering from an ‘eventful’ episiotomy and forceps delivery all alone, all day and sometimes night (as my ex-husband worked shifts), with little support from family or friends.
Now a lot of things in my head have started to make sense; the fear… the trauma… the low moods after her birth… the pressure and overwhelming feeling of having to be a good mum and wife… it wasn’t all just in my head – nor was it ‘just the norm’ – what I’d experienced wasn’t even postnatal depression, it was all a reaction to my birth trauma.
Did you know that depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems in pregnancy? These affect around 10 to 15 out of every 100 pregnant women.
As many as 1 in 5 women will develop mental health problems in pregnancy or after birth and if untreated, these illnesses can leave a devastating impact on the woman and her family. Here at Maternal Kindness, our aim is to speak bravely and openly about our mental health as any one of us can suffer from it. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about – it’s taken me 36 years to realise this!
The M-word is here to promote a kind mind and positive mental health for women suffering from anxiety, depression and grief whilst trying to get pregnant, throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Our goal is to remove the stigma and taboo surrounding miscarriage, baby loss and traumatic births. We want to provide a safe place to speak openly and frankly about experiences, offering support and helping women move forward positively.
Welcome to the M-word!