Why I’m Asking You To Show Us Your #MUMBAG And Raise Funds For A Post Natal Depression Charity

Someone I really admire came out about their PND on Facebook the other day and it really threw me.  (And of course I have to mention the amazing Adele’s admission which has happened since writing this.)

Not because it’s still taboo (it is) or I think she should keep the darkness from the positive PR machine that is social media (I don’t) but because if you asked me who had it, she would be on the absolute bottom of my list.  She is a great character and is super hot and happy and funny on social media even with a small baby in tow. It just surprised me.

I admire her even more now.

So it made me think if she, a seemingly ok type, has it there must be loads of other mums squirrelled away suffering with PND on their own, putting on a brave face or not knowing what to do about it. Or even knowing they have it.

It is hard to out yourself.  It takes guts.  Because you feel that people might think less of you, that you are a bad mum, that your kids will be taken away, that you are a failure, or even a cross-the-road-from-her-she’s-not-very-well type.

A friend of mine had it with her first child and said:

“I just felt SO ashamed.

Ashamed at how I felt towards my baby and how badly I was coping.

I put on a facade to friends and family but my Mum knew.

I think it’s taboo because it feels like everyone else is coping.

Everyone else can do it, why can’t I?”

 

The fact is that 1 in 7 mums will suffer from a bout of Post Natal Depression.

Dad’s can suffer form Post Natal Mental Health Illness too.

The biggest cause of death for women with children between 6 weeks and one year old is suicide.

Read that last one again.

 

There is such a strong Mama presence online at the moment that now, more than ever, talking about PND should be easy and un-judged.

We have moved on from a time when gin ruined mothers. It’s now being celebrated. Hurrah!

It’s encouraged to admit your #parentfails.  The Tiger Mothers seem to have been put back into captivity and it’s not cool to be smug anymore.  We’re slummy and scummy all the way, waiting for wine-o-clock and dissing ourselves before anyone else does.  Been there, got the #GoodTee shirt.

 

Early motherhood chucked some PND at me too.

I never went to the doctor about it.   I didn’t know that feeling that bad wasn’t how it should be.

Its only now when I look at the symptoms of PND do I realise I could have ticked off 90% of the list for the first 16 months of my daughter’s life.  In fact that’s when I realised I’d had it, when it lifted.

I had nothing but love for my baby girl and tried SO hard to get everything right for her.  I remember feeling almost paralysed by it.   Hung up on the rules made by power crazy baby whisperers; I felt smaller somehow. I went from massively sociable to socially anxious. From fun-loving to not being able to see the joy.  And I was wound so tight yet could unravel so easily.

I had always defined myself by my exciting jobs in the media.  It had taken a while to get pregnant and I had fantasised about being a stay at home mum.  Now that I was, I was lost at sea.

I took this new ‘motherhood job’ very seriously.  I found it impossible to relinquish any control or accept help.  If Dom ever tried to offer me any advice or suggest something different I would get so defensive and would often use the analogy “I wouldn’t come to your work and tell you how to do your job.”

My sense of self had well and truly left the building, it took my confidence with it and they didn’t leave a forwarding address.

I had *just* enough in me to give to her but little else left for anyone else, especially not myself.  I thought this was just how Motherhood was.

Sharing my experience is not about pity, it’s about hope really.  I have been through it and come out the other side in a way I would never have expected.  I started a business off the back of it that has changed my path. From a dark, confidence-less place something managed to grow.

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I have also felt totally different after baby number 2, hi-lighting the difference even more in some ways but also showing that you don’t automatically get it twice.   Of course I have had my moments; like fantasising about having an accident (just a little leg break) so I could have a night in hospital and read magazines.  But that was dog-tiredness talking not Black Dog.

If you recognise any of the symptoms in yourself or in someone you know then please do seek out some help.

I wish I had known about PANDAS Foundation who offer support nationally to mums and dads.

Claire Nethersole, the fundraising manager at PANDAS, explains more:

“PANDAS Foundation provides support for people affected by pre or post-natal mental illnesses and their families.  We have a helpline, email support, support groups based in the community and also a closed Facebook group. All of our volunteers either have first-hand experience or have cared for someone who has.  Last year we supported 11,000 people and demand for our services grows every day.  We are funded by the kind generosity of people who donate and hold events for us and we are grateful for every penny we receive. ”

 

I started this blog to champion mums. I marvel how much people manage get done as well as raising small folk.  One of the things I do on the blog is a brazenly nosey peek inside people’s #MumBags. I am fascinated about what we lug about to sustain and facilitate the small people.

 

I asked a pal if I could see inside hers the other day and she said “Oh OK, I’ll share the shame with you.”

 

That was my lightbulb moment.

 

I thought, there is no shame in that bag.  That bag goes a long way to keep your babe alive. Fed, watered, entertained, clean, dry, in pennies for this and that, in Calpol and raisins.  Raise up that bag for it is a life-giving source.

And there is no shame in PND either. It’s not baggage. The shame needs to be lifted and replaced with it’s OK not to be OK.

So here’s my plan … With your help I’d like to go some way in raising money and awareness for this small yet brilliant charity.

How? By sharing the contents of YOUR #MumBag on social media and by texting a donation.

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Here’s what to do:

  1. Tip/ display the contents of your mumbag on the floor and take a pic from above
  2. Post it on Instagram and/or Facebook
  3. Make sure you include all of this blurb:

I’m sharing my #mumbag (or #dadbag) to help mums with Post Natal Depression

Text PANDAS £3 to 70660 to donate to Pandasfoundation.org.uk

INSERT MUMBAG PIC HERE

#showusyourmumbag too TAG MATES HERE

#PND #noshameinit #showusyourmumbag #showusyourdadbag

#PANDASfoundation #itsoknottobeok @pandas_uk @mrsyellowblog

Text costs £3 plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485.   

  1. Remember to text a donation
  2. Encourage as many people as you can to do the same by tagging them in your post

 

Only by talking about this stuff can we normalise it, lift the shame and help people get the help they need.  We will keep you updated on how we get on.

Go on,

#Showusyourmumbag …

Thank you.

 

Follow @MrsYellowBlog on Instagram or find and follow her blog at http://www.mrsyellow.com

 

 

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Mum-bling 3: You Can Feed A Baby From One Tit And Other Stories

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I saw these cute Letters to My Future Self in Waterstones today and it made me really think about what I would write to myself 4 years ago when I was about to give birth and become a parent for the first time.

Here are my top 5. Number 6 is the best.

1. Get a Doula. They are not a midwife (though mine was for 20 years – check out the wonder of Pat Wood), they are a birth partner and they have your back in every sense.

First time round I had 3 midwives over the 36 hours in hospital, and the one that was there for the money shot I locked horns with and just didn’t like. It made for some unpleasant interactions and negativity when I was feeling particularly vulnerable. (Think being told “What do you know?” when you have your legs akimbo in DVT socks in stirrups. Nice.)

Yes they do cost money (I have heard between £450 and £1500 depending on experience/ area) but as you can get cots, prams, highchairs EVERYTHING second hand on local Facebook groups for some real bargains, do that and spend what you save on a Doula. SO worth it – for the consistency of having them with you the whole time, the support before and after the birth and the positivity that all brings to the equation. JUST DOU IT!

2. Don’t be made miserable by trying to stick to regimes that are impossible from books written by people who make their fortunes from your inexperience and insecurity.

Some people love them. I happen not to.

First time round I read Gina Ford and the Baby Whisperer for some guidance and I had a miserable first year.

I spent way too many hours trying to get my baby to sleep, moving 5cm away from her each time she went down until I was on the moon when, looking back, she probably wasn’t tired.

I was wound so tight and felt like I was a bad mother and so rubbish at my mum job. It’s 2pm, why is she not asleep like the book says?

It was painful. I was miserable. My friend told me that her Dad took all the books away and chucked them out. I thought that was so extreme. But now I totally see his point. I have not referred to anything this time, followed my gut and my baby’s cues and I am such a happy Mum this time.

Happy mum = happy baby.

I realise this is easy to say second time round with the wonder of hindsight and experience. A nice normalising book that didn’t make me feel like a weirdo is Your Baby Week by Week.

3. You can breast feed a baby from one tit.

With my first baby I just couldn’t get feeding from my left boob to work. It was mega painful, she was always starving and crying 10 mins later.

After 3 weeks my nipple was a split, open sore (TMI?) and every time I went to feed from it, my toes curled and my eyes cried.

There were a few reasons for this – bad latch, mild tongue-tie, funny flat nipple – a perfect storm in my ZZ-cup. But it was fine on the right side.

No one could advise me on what to do. After days of me anxiously questioning everything, wanting to give up,  a woman said to me, “If you have twins they have one breast each.”

So I thought Fuck It, I’ll give it a go. I closed down my left boob in 2 days, hand expressing just a teaspoon of milk. I continued to feed my daughter for 13 months just from the right one. And she thrived.

So when my son was born I was anxious about the pain and I decided from the start to just go with the right. Health Visitors were all disapproving and said I really “must try” using my left but I went with my gut and didn’t bother. My boy is a thriving WHOPPER. In your face, doubters.

4. Be kind to yourself. You have birthed a baby.

Whether you pushed it out or had a c-section this is a HUGE deal. It will affect your body and your mind. So give yourself time to heal, accept help, ask for help when you need it.

Feeling unhappy all the time is not a good place to be and it needn’t be so. Post-Natal Depression is still a bit of a taboo and it shouldn’t be, it is so common. I didn’t even realize I had it until it lifted, but the signs were there when I think back. Speak to someone, a doctor, a friend. Check in with your partner and see how they think you are.

It is hard not to compare yourself to other Mums and there’s always going to be a rosy-cheeked goddess who seems to be sleeping 12 hours a night finding it all really easy. They are not. They are crying in to the washing up, wiping bums and being narky with their other half too. They are just good at personal PR. Don’t buy it.

5. Sleep/ Life/ Sex/ Your Mind/ Your Fanny will eventually go back to normal. Well maybe not normal, whatever that is, but nicely recognisable. Just give it time.

6. The best piece of advice is not to take anyone’s advice. You have it in you.