For decades women have been told they can “have it all”, the career, the happy marriage and 2.4 perfect children.
But in reality, “having it all” is not as simple as it sounds as so many new mums discover when they find themselves lonely and overwhelmed looking after a newborn.
It can often feel as though every other new mum is finding her feet, and with the pressure of breastfeeding, getting babies to sleep through the night, and for women’s bodies to “snap back” it is no surprise that some women are struggling.
But when you add pre or postnatal depression into the mix, life can become so much harder.
Motherhood can be overwhelming and without the correct support, a variety of issues can cause mental health concerns such as extreme sadness, loneliness and social anxiety.
(Image: Katie Bloska)
Thirty-six year-old year Katie Bloska had no idea what prenatal depression (PND) was until she fell pregnant with her now two-year old daughter Penny.
Despite suffering from depression on and off since she was 21-years-old, the idea of having severe prenatal depression during her pregnancy and postnatal depression after giving birth, was a hard pill to swallow.
She said: “There were days I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror, I did not want to leave the house and I feared that I wasn’t going to be a good mum.”
What is Pre/Postnatal Depression?
According to the NHS, Pre/postnatal depression (PND) and anxiety can often get confused with the term ‘baby blues’ but in actuality, it is a serious mental illness that affects up to 20% of women during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression.
“Looking at people’s highlight reels on social media can cause a rose tinted view and when you suffer with mental health issues it’s hard to see through that.”
(Image: Katie Bloska)
After months of suffering, Mrs Bloska was eventually diagnosed with prenatal depression, something she didn’t even know existed.
She signed off work for a substantial length of time, was put on antidepressants and started a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course to help her figure out what was rational and what was not.
She said: “My mental and physical health was being impacted I did not want to pass that on to my child – I feared she’d become addicted if I took antidepressants.
Five weeks after her daughter was born and her husband when back to work, Mrs Bloska recalls being ‘tired and terrified’.
“I had an emotional breakdown, I was afraid to speak to people about the way I was feeling, I felt that people would judge me – I was in lonely place,” she said.
In 2017, the first time mum discovered that the catalyst to her recovery was to do something about her emotions, to meet new people and find play groups for mum and babies.
(Image: Katie Bloska)
She said: “Despite feeling incredibly anxious, I was determined not to pass on my anxiety to my daughter, so I forced myself out.
“I attended my first tern of Music with Mummy when Penny was 10 weeks old and I completely fell in love, “she added.
It was during this time that Mrs Bloska knew that the best way to help fight against PND and anxiety was to challenge it head on.
In 2018 she took on Music with Mummy as a franchise and started running classes across Bristol with a focus on helping Mums who also suffer from PND and anxiety.
Not long after, Mrs Bloska decided to search for local Facebook groups in Bristol of mothers who had experienced the same mental illness but she quickly found that there wasn’t one so she created a group called ‘Yummy Mummies Bristol’ which now has over 1800 followers.
She said: “Looking at people’s highlight reels on social media can cause a rose tinted view and when you suffer with mental health issues it’s hard to see through that – I wanted to help local Mums realise they aren’t alone.
“I wanted it to be a community where Mums and Mums to be could come together to support each other, offer advice, have fun but most of all to realise we are all in it together.”
The ‘Yummy Mummies Bristol’ founder, has since inspired many women to step forward to break their silence and challenge the stigma around PND.
(Image: Bristol Live)
30-year-old Maddie York was not diagnosed with PND until her son was 14 months old.
She said: “At first I tried to hide it from the people around me but when I found myself getting angry, I knew it was time to get help.
“So I started a six week course of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which was the best thing that I could have done for myself,” she added.
Ms York agrees that there are external pressures when raising a child but the biggest pressure is from within.
“There is something in your head telling you that you cannot do it but when I found Katie’s group changed everything for me.”
“She has created a Facebook group for mums like myself across the city to share taboo questions and not be judged for it – it’s just fantastic.”
(Image: Bristol Live)
31-year-old Kylie Gurgul has had anxiety and depression for many years but it wasn’t until the traumatic birth of her daughter when her anxiety worsened.
She said: “My daughter was born two months early weighting two pound 15 ounces and around the same time I lost my brother which made things even harder.”
It was not long before Ms Gurgul found herself under the care of my GP and on medication for PND and anxiety.
She said: “Before I found out that there were groups out there, I would shut myself at home and wouldn’t’ go anywhere.
“My daughter had social anxiety and she would scream if anybody spoke or touched her and that made me even more anxious,” said the single mum.
After discovering ‘Yummy Mummies Bristol’ and Music with Mummy classes, Ms Gurgul has starting to venture out more, taking her daughter to do different things and has become more confident asking questions.
She said: “The Yummy mummy Bristol page is amazing and really helpful.
Ms Gurgul believes that people need to be more considered to those suffering from PND and anxiety.
She said: “Being told to man up or cheer up is not nice, unless you have experienced it, you really don’t understand.”
(Image: James Beck/Freelance)
Visit Yummy Mummies Bristol on Facebook to join the Bristol mums group
NHS services and advice if you suffer from PND and anxiety
Self-help strategies – talking to family, friends, resting more and
Therapy – Psychological treatments including one to one cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or group sessions or counselling
Medication – Antidepressants recommended if you have moderate to severe depression and you do not want psychological treatment or psychological treatment does not help
Charities and support groups
Association for Post Natal Illness (APNI) – helpline on 020 7386 0868 (10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday) or email email@example.com
Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support (PANDAS) – helpline on 0843 28 98 401 (9am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday)
NCT – helpline on 0300 330 0700 (8am to midnight, Monday to Sunday)
Mind, the mental health charity – infoline on 0300 123 3393 (9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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