Yorkshire mums team up to help women suffering post natal depression

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Two mothers who suffered post natal depression have set up a support group to help others. Catherine Scott reports.

Emma Gill thought she was the only person struggling after having a baby.

She experienced postnatal depression when her baby was five months old in 2016.

In 2017 she was treated at the Mount in the Mother and Baby Unit, a service provided by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“Whilst I was attending baby groups, I met a woman who is now a close friend of mine, at the time we’d chatted briefly at other baby groups and mistakenly thought the other was doing really well,” recalls Emma.

“It was only when we bumped into each other at The Mount that we realised we were both struggling.

“So we set up Wave to reach other mums in the same position, who felt they couldn’t open up at usual groups.”

The group, which is called Wave Mums, has now been set up and has been running for over 18 months.

It encourages mums who are finding it difficult, whatever the reason to come along to the group.

“We’ve had mums who have experienced postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” explains Emma.

“One of the very first mums that we had was really struggling to talk about her experience, by attending the support group she now blogs about her experience and has set up an Instagram account.

“When I was being treated at the Mother and Baby Unit, the biggest part of my recovery was speaking openly about my journey, which is why I encourage other mums to do the same.

“I had a family bereavement couple of years ago and that really never went away for me.

“I was feeling very depressed when I was pregnant, I was constantly in a low mood, I had severe sickness and I thought that was normal because it was my first pregnancy.

“When I attended my first appointment with the community midwife, I was asked how I was feeling and my response was that I felt normal.

“There was no opportunity for me to say how I was really feeling, as I thought this was a general question from my community midwife.

“I know that as part of your first six-week check-up, the mum gets asked how they’re feeling and this is to assess if they’re struggling emotionally.”

To help other mums Emma has started volunteering at the Mother and Baby Unit at the Mount, where she herself was helped,

Dr Jane Mischenko, Lead Commissioner for Children and Maternity at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “In Leeds we have a perinatal mental health pathway or model of care that helps health and care professionals identify mums – and their partners – who may be struggling with their emotional and mental health. It also includes information about what support services are available. We’re working hard to make sure that health and care professionals across the city and families are aware of the pathway.

“It’s great to see that the Wave Mums peer support group has done so well, and provides another source of support for Leeds mums.

“Mums and their partners can also access the MindWell website (www.mindwell-leeds.org.uk/baby), which has a wealth of information about maternal mental health.”

She added: “We’re always looking at how we can make improvements around maternal mental health, as there’s so much more to be done.

“One of the ways we do this is by gathering experience of maternal mental health through our pregnancy and postnatal mental health ambassadors.

“The ambassadors play a key role in the work we deliver around maternal mental health. They gather experiences from local people and raise awareness of what support is available to mums and their partners.

“If you’d like to share your experience, please get in touch the ambassadors through their website called NEST (Nurturing, Enabling, Sharing, Transforming) www.nestleeds.co.uk.”

The Wave Mums peer support group meets every Friday morning from 10am to 12pm at Brackenwood Community Association, The Highwood Building, Brackenwood Drive, Leeds, LS8 1RG.

For further information, visit www.wavemumsgroup.wordpress.com