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Becoming a parent can be exhausting, especially in those early days, it can really affect your mental health. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be compassionate to yourself & to accept support from others.

The NCT have a useful list of top tips for taking care of yourself after having a baby

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It’s common for mums to experience a period of distress around day 5 after having their baby, this is generally quite short lived & what we refer to as ‘the baby blues’. However for around 1 in 10 women this develops into something more prolonged & may require you to reach out for some mental health support. Some mums experience this during their pregnancy too & it can include worrying about bonding with their baby.

Talk to us – we’re here to listen

Don’t hide away & feel like you’re the only one feeling like this, we promise you you’re not; keep talking – our groups are the ideal place as our peer supporters are trained to listen & can signpost on if we think you need some further support.

“Accessing support is scary, but it’s out there. You are worthy of it’”

Beth – Early Nourishment Peer Supporter

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It can be really helpful reading stories of those who have lived experience of struggling with their mental health; Rosey of PND & Me shares her story on her page & hosts a weekly ‘PND Hour’ chat on her twitter feed. Other pages of support include Eve Canavans ‘Smalltimemum’ blog, where she talks about her experience of postnatal psychosis & what support is available for mums experiencing perinatal mental health issues.

Taking medication during pregnancy & beyond

You may be worried about taking medication for your mental health during pregnancy or when breastfeeding; please do not stop suddenly, consult with a professional before making any decisions. There are many medications which are ‘safe’. Check out the BUMPS website & The Breastfeeding Network for more information

Local support

Local services that may be of support include:

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  • TALKWORKS – who work with a range of difficulties including mild/moderate anxiety & depression, OCD & birth trauma. Pregnant women and mums to babies under 1 year get seen as a priority (as well as armed forces personnel & their families). You can self refer to this service via phone or online
  • Devon Partnership Trusts Perinatal Mental Health Team – for women experiencing more moderate/severe difficulties with their mental health, or those who have a significant mental health history which may need to be considered in order to give them the best support possible; there is our local perinatal mental health team. They work with mums from conception up until 1 year postnatal. Please speak to a health professional if you think you need a referral

Other helpful links

Here are some other links that you may find useful:

  • Royal College of General Practitioners Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit
  • Perinatal Positivity by Formed Films  with real stories of men & women who have struggled with their mental health around the perinatal period
  • The Compassionate Mind Approach to Postnatal Depression by Michelle Cree is a great read for anyone & is available at the local library
  • When you’re struggling with your own mood it can be hard to focus on what your baby needs; check out this article from the NCT on ‘How to cope and keep calm with a crying baby’

Dads… matter too!

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  • Dads can struggle with their mental health in the perinatal period too; please speak to a health professional if you need support & don’t feel embarrassed to talk to your support network about how you’re feeling. You can also self refer via phone or online to TALKWORKS
  • Check out Fathers Reaching Out for the campaign for support for fathers mental health
  • The DadPad is full of useful information for Dads – this is only available if your local area have commissioned it. We are lucky that it is available for anyone living in Devon & Cornwall

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