Hello my name is Sue Parker and I was invited by Deirdre Munro to write a blog for our Global Village Midwives to highlight how priceless positive ‘protonic’ peer support really is.
In some cases, postnatal mental health care is something that still falls through the cracks.
With well-wishers saying ‘a healthy baby is all that matters’ and talking about the ‘sudden rush of love’ a parent feels upon seeing their baby for the first time, it is therefore no surprise that any parent who is struggling with their mental health not only feels incredibly isolated; but also guilty for not enjoying their new role as much as others expect them to.
The guilt and fear of judgement is often a principal factor in both mums and dads not seeking help from a Healthcare Professional (HCP). I wrestled with my mental health for months. It was a true tug-of-war and I was exhausted. Finally, I sought professional help in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and I saw my GP whose conscientious care I am certainly grateful for.
However, it wasn’t just the therapy and antidepressants which helped me on my journey. Peer support was also a great comfort. I felt reassured that others had experienced the same highs and lows as me. I grew to learn that I wasn’t ‘abnormal’ or a ‘bad mother’ and (with the help of my CBT) I began to feel comfortable dismissing the intrusive thoughts as opposed to believing them to be fact.
I conducted some research and examined other published studies about the benefits of peer support. Largely, it was found that peer support is beneficial for those suffering with a mental health issue. It was because of this I created ‘Life With Baby’, an online peer support platform for anyone in Kent suffering from a postnatal mental health issue. We want to raise awareness of all postnatal mental health issues and make sure everyone feels welcome; mums, dads, family and friends. Through a community like this, people can talk to others, share information and find local services.
With this help to hand, sufferers are truly able to make choices about their care and find what works for them. I am confident that we are moving in the right direction to help each other and with the rise of social media, there are considerable benefits to us becoming more connected.
If you would like more information about Life With Baby, please see our Facebook page: (www.facebook.com/lifewithbabykent) or my About Me page: (https://about.me/sueparker)