So often we hear of the awful stories around postnatal depression - mine included!
Many women are afraid to have another child after being so poorly first time round. Indeed Nick was understandably reluctant to ever want to have another child, but I would have loved to.
There are things that can be done to avoid or lessen the risks, which are higher if you have suffered before. Here is some advice I have written from what I have learnt :-
Sadly statistics show us that there is a 50% risk as opposed to 15 – 20% of developing a mental health problem after pregnancy if you have suffered one before. However, please bear in mind that every pregnancy is different and just because it happened first time is not an automatic assumption it will happen again. Yet there are ways to minimise the risk and give you more control and confidence you will be well next time as you will have less fear and far more knowledge.
It is vital to get your support team in place and ensure that in the early days after giving birth all systems are in place to allow you maximum time for rest, for yourself and your baby. Even before you get pregnant reconnect with the health professionals and family and friends involved the first time and review what worked, what didn’t and what could have been better, e.g. medication, talking therapy. Recall the early signs from last time and warn everyone to look out for them and to respond accordingly thus meaning a faster recovery. Try to plan to give birth at a different time of year to make it ‘different’ from first time. Have discussed and written plans in place for the birth and early days, for example, who will help to look after the first child. Avoid any major stressors, such as moving house. Ensure you keep physically well by eating properly, by taking gentle exercise. Make your plans to feel reassured and in control, have the support structures ready, think positively and visualise the happy pregnancy and motherhood that can be yours.
Well, several years ago I was contacted by a lady who had suffered puerperal psychosis with her first baby. Eight years down the line, fit and well and with a lovely partner she told me how they would love their own baby. Of course she was worried but got the advice from her medical team pre-conception and plans were put in place for a package of support for her delivery date and following weeks and months after the birth of the baby in May.
I am delighted to report that Grace and her twins are fantastic! She is exhausted but loving it! Big sister is a wonderful support to them all and I was so thrilled to meet up with them. The babies are beautiful and Grace has that magical 'sparkle' that she missed out on first time around.
Good luck to all the family and we hope that this will give others a glimmer of how it can be. Of course there is no guarantee that it won't happen but certainly for Grace the prevention and support package has worked for her.