Mums matter

Mums matter

Mums do matter. A cliche’, yes, it may sound just about that, however, this is today’s theme for peri natal mental health awareness week. The week long campaign serves to raise awareness on this not talked about issue of mental health during and after pregnancy.

Mental health in certain communities is difficulty to talk about because of misunderstandings and misconceptions of vulnerabilities in people. How can you be sad/overwhelmed, unhappy or depressed when you are carrying or having Gods blessing? Yes, our children are just that, blessings. Sometimes those blessings come with challenges.

image from @metro

I remember how excited we were on finding out that we were expecting. Unplanned as it was, we were elated. Soon after, the vomitting commenced and it got worse by the day. By the time we got to second trimester, the plastic bag on my daily commute into work had become my friend. I was literally worn out on daily basis, couldn’t stomach much apart from the TM buns, ham and black tea. I looked forward to the weekend lie ins and not getting out of bed at all.

To a certain extend, I was fortunate to be at home in Zimbabwe ‘surrounded’ by family even though they did not know how to help or support me. The challenge with mental health is that even the sufferer does not know when to seek help because most of the time one is able to just smile through it.

So what are some of the symptoms and signs of pre, peri or post natal mental illness? According to charity mind, around one in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. The charity goes on to highlight that there are a varied reasons as why one may suffer mental illness, mainly

For us we had a few risk factors such as moving house, quick unplanned transitioning into parenthood, employment pressures as well as general ill- preparedness. We didn’t attend any pre-marital counselling or ante natal classes. We pretty much found ourselves reacting to situations and circumstances instead of being proactive.

When I had our second, the stresses were there as we had moved continents and I was adjusting to being a mature nursing student. Once again the Zimbabwe community of student nurses rallied behind me and supported me through another ordeal with severe morning sickness, tiredness, looking after a pre – schooler and unending assignments.

So what helps with maternal mental health?

-Talking to someone about your feelings help. Its important to let someone know how tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, struggling or sad you are feeling.

You don’t need to self diagnose, if your feelings/ emotions tell you something isn’t right, then talk to someone about it.

As mothers it becomes imperative for us to talk about our mental health with our children so they can learn. The report in the news highlight the worrying increase in children’s mental illness and lack of resources to support this demand.

Faith in action Charity is doing some work with faith communities about supporting members of the congregation who may need support.

Prayer, meditation and mindfulness do help as well. Being able to pray with someone can make a huge difference

Mind is also a good charity to reach out to.

GP’s can help with referrals to support services. Talking therapies is a good service where you can self refer into depending where you live.

Other community services such as midwifery, health visiting and home start are also very good.

Don’t suffer in silence

Don’t smile through it. 💕

Links and resources:

1- Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/#.XMdbnjBKjIV

2-Maternal Mental Health Alliance https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/

3- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/child-and-adolescent-mental-health-services-camhs/

Transnational parenting  

Transnational parenting  

Yay, it’s  school half term here in U.K,  and we are all home. I had a lie in until I was woken up to a hearty breakfast by our son. Our two children are now 17 and 12, with the our eldest son nearly an adult.

I look at them with joy and pride as they busied themselves around the house. Indeed the Lord has been gracious to us. The journey has not always been easy. Fear, anxiety and worry have played a significant part of our parenting journey. It should not be so! Lack of knowledge and understanding creates fear and unnecessary anxiety.

Our son was born back home in Zimbabwe and was dearly loved and adored since conception. For 6 weeks postpartum, I was ‘fattened’, waited upon and pampered as a new mom by my mum and grandmother as per our Shona custom. That did not stop Q from having colic and being the most unsettled baby in the household. My mom and grandmother used to take turns to cuddle and bhabhu (carry baby on the back with a sling, see pic below 👇🏾) him to sleep which he loved. I remember very well my late grandma laying down to sleep on her tummy with Q on her back.

Once I returned to the marital home, I couldn’t bath, eat or do anything due to Q’s crying. Social isolation did not help as we moved into suburbia. My poor husband did not know how best he could help. Things settled when we finally got a nanny, when Q was around 3months old. I feel I should not have suffered in silence. But how could I? I did not know or understand what was going on. Gripe water did not work and Q blatantly refused formula milk. It took me a while to adjust to being a mom.

I am writing this to encourage other moms out there. Motherhood is challenging but there is help and resources available.

📌Talking about your feelings:

Talking your feelings through with someone is a start. For most couples talking to your spouse/ partner ideally, should be the first point of call. By talking it through together, it aids the transitioning journey to be in synergy. Sometimes, he may not be the best candidate to talk to, maybe due to work pressures or lack of insight. My husband did the practical bits ( coming home on time to feed the baby, cook and relieve me so I could have a shower). However, he never confronted my emotions and how overwhelmed I felt and looked. He just did not know how to and so were my family and friends. Your GP is a point of call and s/he can signpost you to the necessary services.

 

📌Parenting courses:

Attending parenting courses educates and empowers you for the role. I totally agree, to the notion that parenting classes should be made inclusive for transition into parenthood (Independent news, 2016).
Parenting courses are offered for different stages of parenting; pre birth, 0-5years, Teenage years etc. Most social services across UK offer parenting classes for different age groups.

Some voluntary organisations, such as charities and churches also do offer parenting classes. Ask your local church if they do. From work experience, BME women do not access these courses as they do not find them valuable or they do not relate/ appreciate the experiences of mainstream caucasian women. It will be interesting to note evidence on the outcomes of those children in developmental skills at school entry level.

 

📌Children services

Attending and accessing help via children centres, health visitors, church organisations and social care is equally important. This does not only help with combatting isolation but building a social network. Relationships are beneficial in life, for personal development and growth.

Social services tends to be seen in a negative light but they do work for the welfare of all children and families. If you find yourself in a vulnerable situation: no money, no papers and in a volatile relationship, they can assist, under Children in need.

 

📌Community/ cultural groups.

These groups, if well run, are fantastic for offering a sense of belonging and well being. The challenge from a professional point of view, is that they can be a stumbling block to cultural integration. Some of the groups do not offer parenting courses, support groups etc.

There is hope ❤

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Disclaimer: This post is based purely on personal experiences.

RESOURCES

Colic

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Colic/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Talking therapy

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/benefits-of-talking-therapy.aspx
Parenting coursehttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/david-cameron-plans-to-make-parenting-classes-normal-a6804381.html
Children In Need

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/looking-after-people/local-authority-services-for-children-in-need/