Narrator: Becoming a parent is a different experience for everyone and it’s not always a happy time. If you’re struggling with your emotions, it’s important to talk to someone and there’s lots of help available in Leeds.

Mum 1: “My pregnancy was unexpected and I was so excited at first, but then I started worrying if I would cope. I’d suffered from depression before so I thought I might be seen as a bad mum and I was scared my baby might be taken away.”

Mum 2: “Even though I already had a child, I still couldn’t stop worrying about what might go wrong during this pregnancy. There was no real reason for me to be worrying, but I couldn’t help it, which was really exhausting.”

Mum 3: “My partner and I had always dreamt of having a baby, but it turned out that I needed fertility treatment and (pause) it didn’t work and that put a really big strain on our relationship and eventually we split up. I did finally get pregnant with somebody else, uh, but the father didn’t want to be part of our lives and I didn’t know if I could do it on my own.”

Narrator: There are lots of reasons people can become low or anxious during or after pregnancy. Having a baby is a life-changing experience but it can sometimes trigger depression, even if you can’t see any reason for it. People often hide how they are feeling because they are afraid of being thought a failure. But everyone has a different experience of being a mum or a dad and asking for help if things get tough doesn’t make someone a bad parent. 

Mum 2: “People presume that if you’ve had a baby before, everything will be fine. People kept telling me it was just hormones, and I should shake it off, so I didn’t feel I could be honest. I avoided people and I didn’t want to go to clubs, but my doctor referred me to the counselling, which gave me a place to just be myself.”

Mum 1: “My son was born nearly two months early which was really traumatic. Everyone talks about maternal instinct, but I didn’t even understand what that meant. The midwives were really patient though and arranged for me to have my own room which helped me feel less pressure around the other new mums. I was referred to the mental health mother and baby unit and got support at home. I also got help to bond with my baby and therapy to help me manage my depression and anxiety. The playgroups and local children’s centres were great too for getting practical advice. Plus I made friends with other mums going through the same thing.”

Mum 3: “I absolutely hated pregnancy and I felt sick all of the time. I barely slept and I was so anxious that that actually I’d lose my baby. I was so lonely and I felt judged for being a single parent. My midwife was great but she struggled to find the extra support that I needed; in the end she referred me to an antenatal group where really I felt safe to explore my feelings and I didn’t ever feel judged there. I felt like the facilitators and the other women really got it and they got me and they were interested in me and cared about me and my baby. I spent some time thinking about how I could relax my mind and body and tried loads of things like yoga, meditation, but most importantly, I’ve learnt how to ask for help.”

Narrator: So talk to your midwife, your GP or your health visitor about the support that’s available. There are also lots of services that you can get in touch with yourself, including groups, counselling, practical support. Have a look at the section on the MIndWell website and that explains what support there is in Leeds.

Mum 1: “It can be a lonely, frightening place but the most important thing to do is to open up to those around you. There is no shame in having difficulties. Be persistent and keep going until you get the help you need. Everyone’s situation is different but I have learnt that other people have also experienced the same fears and worries as me. Trust in yourself and remember you are not alone.”