Since I developed postpartum psychosis four years ago and postnatal anxiety/agoraphobia two years ago after the birth of my boys, I have been anxious. I am not very good when it comes to crowds, public transport and being alone.

Yesterday I took a four hour bus journey to London….yes BUSY BUSY London!!

Lucky for me a lovely lady Sophie was making the journey to London from Cardiff, we decided to catch the bus together.

Sophie and I had been invited to a talk in the House of Commons – The Importance of addressing Mental Health conditions during pregnancy and beyond.

I was so privileged to have been asked and after my year of non stop campaigning for a specialised Mother and Baby unit in Wales,  I felt this was the perfect opportunity for me to meet and talk to others who I have made links with this past year.

Nothing or no one was going to stop me attending this event – Anxiety had to back off today.

The coach trip was easier than I thought, Sophie and I got to know each other and I updated her on my Recovery Mummy plans and developments for Cardiff. I spoke of the mother and baby unit campaign for Wales and she now knows my vision for the future  – Poor Sophie had no ears left after four hours of my waffling haha!

Once in London we made our way to meet some others at a local pub, I walked along the busy streets…I felt my heart race, I felt shaky and nauseated – I hate crowds!

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Once inside the pub I started to relax, It was reassuring to see my friend, fellow campaigner and Welsh butty Mark Williams there.  I sat down, the table was full of people; suddenly I start to recognise people from Twitter – It was like #PNDHour the only person missing was the lovely Rosey Adams!

Today I met with people who I have spoken to online or I have read a personal story regarding their struggles with Maternal Mental Health. Although its a first meeting, I feel I already know them.

To me, these are not just people – these ‘people’ are some of the most courageous and strong human beings I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

They have been there for me and others over the years, these people are the reason that women, men and families have now started to talk about Maternal Mental Health– these people are my friends.

 

Before heading to the House Of Commons I had a little chat with Iain Cunningham an interesting man who has been on a mission to find the truth about a mother he never knew. The BFI has supported a feature doc about his search for information about his mother. ‘Irene’s Ghost’ will be released in 2017 and I can not wait!

Inside the House of Commons we were met by the lovely Raja Gangopadhyay, Consultant Obstetrician.

The event was organised and chaired Raja. The purpose of the event at the House of Commons was for raising awareness on Maternal Mental Health in the society and to remove stigma around the health condition.

The day was filled with talks from professionals and those with a lived experience.

Dr Alain Gregoire spoke of how Maternal Mental Health difficulties was the most common cause of death in new mothers – 1 in 7 Maternal deaths are a result of suicide! He says women are taking a 2nd place in society, women are not getting the support at this most critical time in their lives. He went on to say that this may be down to cultural and society issues. Would maternal mental health be taken more seriously if this was happening to a man?

Next to speak was Antoinette Sandbach MP

As soon as she started to talk my eyes welled up. I had watched her in Parliament talking about how she lost her son Sam to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Antoinette wants better bereavement care for all families suffering in the UK. I caught up with her on our coffee break, I just had to tell her how brave she is for standing up and that I will be helping whoever I can campaign to get better bereavement care in Wales.

Professor Vivette Glover gave a great speech on the effects of maternal stress on the fetus and the childhood development. Sanchita Islam talked about her own personal journey of schizoaffective disorder and perinatal mental health – she promoted and read a chapter of her book – Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too

Sue AtkinsParenting Expert said a few words about effects on family relations and importance of parenthood education.

Lindsay Robinson spoke after our coffee break about her struggle with postnatal depression and getting a diagnosis in Northern Ireland. Beverly Turner who has a show on LBC spoke of antenatal classes and why home births and Hypnobirthing have a more calming effect on mum and that they should be considered an option for mums.

My friend Mark Williams spoke about fathers mental health and how we can all get involved to help change the NICE guidelines – Dads need to be included!

The last speaker of the day was Clair Rees who spoke about bonding attachment: vital 1001 critical days of human life.

At this great event I met with Andy Meyers a psychologist specialising in child and family mental health who I have followed closely on Twitter – Such a great guy!

I met inspirational author Elaine Hanzak who made me feel welcome,  she is a lovely lady.

I also met with Helen Jeffery a playwright who has brought her own experiences of postnatal depression to life on stage. Helen and I got on very well – it must be my love and respect of the theatre. I am hoping to talk to the Sherman Theatre about this performance and see if we can get in shown here in Cardiff next year!

By the end of the day I was tired, I had a little panic in the coach station as it was so busy but Sophie said she wouldn’t let anything happen to me – I trusted her.

On the late night coach home I started to think about the day….

England are going to get 4 more Mother and Baby units…..

That is great news for England and the many families but I still can’t help but feel sad for Wales and all I fight for.

Wales has no Mother and Baby unit!!

I am trying my best for the families in Cardiff that are affected by perinatal mental health and/or substance misuse. The Family Hub will be based in LLandaff North and fingers crossed all of Recovery Mummy services will be up and running by February 2017 but it is not enough.

I wish the people would wake up!

If a Mothers suffering with depression in pregnancy she can go on to have postnatal depression. Postnatal depression could lead to bonding issues with baby which could have a lasting impact and effect on the child. The child may then require treatment in the future themselves for mental health! This is happening globally!

We have an epidemic of mothers struggling and the NHS are getting away with not funding Maternal Mental Health!

Why cant they see that to Invest in the future, they have to start TODAY with mothers…let’s protect the future…Its not rocket science is it!

Whoops….sorry bit of a rant there…but who wouldn’t get angry by these devastating statistics:

  • 26 per cent of babies in the UK have a parent affected by domestic violence, mental health or substance misuse
  • Domestic violence affects 39,000 babies
  • Mental health problems affect 144,000 babies
  • Substance misuse affects 109,000 babies
  • 36 per cent of serious case reviews into deaths or serious abuse involve a child under one
  • Depression and anxiety affect 10-15 out of every 1001 pregnant women
  • Over a third of domestic violence begins in pregnancy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in about 8 per cent of pregnant women
  • One million children in the UK suffer from the type of problems (including ADHD, conduct disorder, emotional problems and vulnerabilities to chronic illness) that are increased by antenatal depression, anxiety and stress
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for women during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth
  • Earlier this year, only 3 per cent of local areas had a perinatal mental health strategy
  • 26 per cent of babies in the UK have a parent affected by domestic violence, mental health or substance misuse
  • Domestic violence affects 39,000 babies
  • Mental health problems affect 144,000 babies
  • Substance misuse affects 109,000 babies
  • 36 per cent of serious case reviews into deaths or serious abuse involve a child under one
  • Depression and anxiety affect 10-15 out of every 1001 pregnant women
  • Over a third of domestic violence begins in pregnancy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in about 8 per cent of pregnant women
  • One million children in the UK suffer from the type of problems (including ADHD, conduct disorder, emotional problems and vulnerabilities to chronic illness) that are increased by antenatal depression, anxiety and stress
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for women during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth
  • Earlier this year, only 3 per cent of local areas had a perinatal mental health strategy
  • 26 per cent of babies in the UK have a parent affected by domestic violence, mental health or substance misuse
  • Domestic violence affects 39,000 babies
  • Mental health problems affect 144,000 babies
  • Substance misuse affects 109,000 babies
  • 36 per cent of serious case reviews into deaths or serious abuse involve a child under one
  • Depression and anxiety affect 10-15 out of every 1001 pregnant women
  • Over a third of domestic violence begins in pregnancy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in about 8 per cent of pregnant women
  • One million children in the UK suffer from the type of problems (including ADHD, conduct disorder, emotional problems and vulnerabilities to chronic illness) that are increased by antenatal depression, anxiety and stress
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for women during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth
  • Earlier this year, only 3 per cent of local areas had a perinatal mental health strategy

So my goal for next year will be to grow Recovery Mummy and the Family Hub project.

Help develop with proffesionals a model Mother and Baby unit for Wales. Continue campaigning for better perinatal mental health care in Wales, see if I can support anyone with the campaign for better bereavement support and help my friend Mark Williams on his campaign to change the NICE guidelines – lets think about Dad.

Wish me luck!!!

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If anyone wants to help me on my quest for better Maternal Mental Health in Wales please email me – charlotte@recoverymummy.org

 

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