Back in a time where it could be suggested that there was waves of support for a new Mum, I still found it incredibly daunting, lonely and a scary place to be. Who had I become? I didn't know who I was anymore. At 21 years old, grieving the loss of my Mum less than 12 months before, I was becoming a Mum myself. I look back and I think 'holy shit, that was one hell of an exam from the university of life.' No wonder, I slightly lost the plot. So when I recently hear about my friends and acquaintances experience of parenthood throughout the pandemic, my soul hurts for them a little bit. I hear so many things like 'I haven't seen a health visitor.' or 'Well I was told if his clothes looked baggy then he wasn't feeding enough and there are no weigh in clinics available.' I suddenly began to feel really lucky for the previous postnatal care I had received throughout my previous pregnancies, and I felt compelled to support and help these parents through. Working in a community mental health team, I was astonished with the amount of women who were coming through to us for support, and also the amount who hadn't been detected to have needed that support earlier on because they had no postnatal check up. A Mummy on my Instagram posted how she had her 6 week postnatal check cancelled and no rearrangement, she's just supposed to 'crack on' which we all know, isn't so easy with a little life attached to you 24/7. A new Dad reached out to me and he tells me how he has no idea what he is supposed to be doing, but what he does know, is he is feeling super low and struggling to bond with his baby and yet no healthcare professional has even glanced a look his way to see how he is coping too.
I guess what I am trying to get at here is that all the cancellations, the one-off appointments, the over the phone advice, it has not given parents effective support in their new journey of parenting. Believe me, I KNOW we have been navigating all of this through a pandemic, and we are working the best we can to achieve the incredibly hard and the impossible. I think what our healthcare system has done has been absolutely amazing. I have been there in the thick of it in the NHS with our community mental health team and it has been an eye opener for sure. What I am trying to get as is our support system under pressure. Our midwives, our health visitors and GPs. That is why community has been absolutely crucial to new parents, whether that be through social media or through connecting via friends and their own community, it has been crucial to uplift and support one another when other support systems have been unreachable. I see both sides of the coin, I see the frustration in new parents who need answers, can't get answers and result in the manifestation of anxiety, stress and leading to the onset of a possible mood disorder. I also see the absolute buckling pressure of the NHS, tirelessly working against this intruding beast of a virus and having their regulations and rules constantly changing. I see these workers, I see the stress, I see the pressure, I see the existential crisis they are working through. I have been one of them. Now I am here finishing my final year in my degree and exploring postnatal depression within my dissertation, I could not help but find this to be a really poignant revelation in the recent emerging research and it absolutely got me thinking and here is the biggy - Yes. Ongoing support and postnatal care is crucial for parents and babies, without doubt. However what I really want to point out is, how amazing every parent has done coping. By communicating and connecting with others, you have lifted others into a place of support, you have pulled other parents out of dark places, you have contributed to the amazing community of parents around you and you probably don't even know it.
More importantly, you have navigated yourself through this, blindly may I add, but you have done it. I don't think enough praise is given to those who have experienced life, new life and a pandemic all at once. As I am expecting my third baby, I have most definitely seen a change in services, compared to my other two children. I don't feel I have had as many check ups, I had a little scare early on and it didn't seem to be much of a concern to anyone other than me and my other half. I know I can't speak for services everywhere, but I can for where I am locally, as a Mum, an expectant Mum and someone who has been on the other side of the fence in a team working with parents struggling with their mental health. What I love though is the honour to be in a position that can pull all this together and help navigate myself through my own experiences but also support and motivate other parents to find their own feet in the parenting journey too. Obviously I don't have it all figured out, I am still learning believe me! What I do have though is a session coming up in my Facebook group soon and I would love you to be part of it - The Mindful Mummies Community.
It is a quick snippet of just some basic things we can be doing to nurture and look after ourselves through pregnancy, prenatally and as a parent. It's totally free and I would love you to be there. We can bash more out about this topic there too. See you soon