What does a mum with PND look like? It might not be the one you expect. She might be the mum you meet at a toddler group who looked like she’s got it all together. Or the mum you passed on the street who smiled and looked so happy.
The truth is you might never know how another mum is REALLY feeling. So be kind! Always.
1. The mother with the biggest smile in the room
When you think of someone who has depression you expect them to look sad or down. But a mum with PND might have the brightest smile in the room. Why? Because she might be putting on a mask. And making a really big effort to hide her true feelings.
2. The one who looks like they’ve got it all together
A mum with PND might look like someone who has got the hang of this parenting gig and appears to do it with ease. She might post photos to social media where she and her baby look so happy and content. You might even see those pics and feel a little envious of how easily she seems to have slotted into her new role as a mama.
Remember that social media never tells the whole story. The mum you think is bossing it might really be struggling behind closed doors. She might also be doing both!
3. The one who is chatty and engaged when you meet them
You might expect a mum with PND is withdrawn and disengaged. But she might be friendly and chatty when you meet her. The truth is it might have taken a lot of strength and energy for her to get out and be with others. And she might be putting in her all to chat and engage to find support but to also hide her PND – especially with those she’s just met.
4. The one who looks amazing
You met a mum who looked amazing. Dressed immaculately, her smile enhanced by a slick of lippy. Hair looking fab. You cannot always tell who has depression by her outward appearance. She might have put her best look on to raise her confidence before leaving the house.
6. The mum who is surrounded by family and friends
You might know or meet a mum who has family nearby who are super supportive and who has loads of amazing friends. And think that they must be so happy and well.
It can certainly help, but even being surrounded by an army of caring people that love you is sometimes no shield for PND.
Those suffering might be surrounded by a load of people who care but still feel isolated and alone.
7. The mother you LEAST expect to have PND
The truth is that you might not know who is struggling with their mental health. Unless they tell you.
Sometimes those suffering choose not to tell many people about their struggles.
PND – behind the mask
There is still too much stigma and too many myths surrounding PND. Many mums might feel a misplaced feeling of shame or a fear of judgement if they admit they are suffering.
They might feel alone and lonely.
They might not know how to ask for help. Or just not have the energy to reach out.
Support for PND
Sometimes the hardest and bravest step when you have PND is asking for help. When you take that step you are one step closer to recovery. And PND is 100% recoverable.
You’re busy looking after your baby. You’re coping with sleep deprivation. You just don’t have time to think about how to lose any weight you put on in pregnancy. You should always love your body – it just grew a tiny human after all! But what are some easy bite-size weight loss tips for busy mums? It’s all about learning to walk before you can run!
The dreaded D word bringing out the toddler in you!
When it comes to trying to lose weight and the dreaded ‘D’ word,does your brain have a particular reaction that can be frustrating, torrential, aggravating and usually end up with you sitting on the naughty step with a tub of ice cream in your lap as you have a little bit of a cry?
First of all, let us reassure you, you are not alone! Most of us have heard the word ‘diet’ so many times that it immediately sends us into a fight or flight frenzy! We are all in the same boat when it comes to that ‘D’ word.
But, sadly, here comes the bad news: quick-fix diets rarely work!
A bit of a difficult pill to swallow for a lot of people. But speaking for the sake of mums here: we don’t have time to think about how to lose weight. We are tired, and so the mere sight of a salad makes us want an extra bit of cake. Our reactions mimic our toddlers, and suddenly not wanting to share is kind of understandable.
So, should we just give up because we are busy? Definitely not. If you’re feeling a bit down about your new mum tum then here are some easy ways to approach it all.
Weight loss tip for busy mums: “Learning to walk”
When a baby is taking its first magical steps, it doesn’t happen automatically. Our baba’s don’t suddenly kick their heels together in the air and start galloping through the wind, doing star jumps and flips.
First, they learn the basics. They learn how to sit up, they learn how to stand, and they learn how to balance. Then, and only then, have they got some base work and can learn to walk.
The same logic can be applied to when we want to try and get healthy. It’s near impossible to jump straight into the lifestyle of the fit and healthy. We shouldn’t hold such high expectations of ourselves of being able to do it all straight away! If we want to be able to run, we first need to learn to walk
And if we want to learn to walk, we need to focus on the base work.
Step one: sitting up (yup, we’re still talking weight loss tips)
This is the first big step and the beginning of your journey. For a lot of us, this is the most difficult. Mainly because we have decided we want to do something to change our lifestyle. It’s okay to feel nervous! But, we should not inflate this step into being our end goal. We all have a finish line to reach, and it’s not going to be at the starting pole.
Our first hurdle is this: do just one thing that will begin to improve your mental or physical health.
Not something as vague as “start a diet” however. This one thing should be specific. Think of what you are going to do in more detail.
A couple of weight loss tips/ideas that we had for mums:
Do one activity a week that involves physical exercise. That might be as simple as walking your little one to the park when you would normally drive. Or signing up for a baby/toddler class that involves more physical activity. We have plenty of classes listed (Latino Bambino, Sweaty Mama, Buggyfit to list just a few) on Happity that might help with this.
Learn more about Nutrition: This step may not involve making any changes to your eating habits yet. This step is more just about finding out what nutrition is. And how eating well can make you feel better. One of the easiest ways you can slide these little tidbits into your day is by following a few nutrition/body positivity pages on social media! Some influencers on Instagram include NicsNutrition or Rhirition for nutrition information, and Alexlight_ldn for body positivity. Have a look around to see who appeals to you!
A change is a change, no matter how small or simple it might sound at first. Once doing one of these feels second nature to you, and is firmly in your routine, then move to the next step.
Step two: standing up
The next step isn’t too tricky to wrap your head around: add one more thing to your routine that will help your mental or physical health.
A few more weight loss tips for mums!:
Eating at regular meal times: This one can often be the downfall for a lot of mamas. But, why not try eating at the same time that your child is eating. Or just before/after if it’s impossible to eat and feed! Try not to forget about yourself when you are feeding others. And if eating all of your meals regularly still sounds too hard, then try at least getting your breakfast at a regular time every morning.
Getting enough sleep: Studies have shown that getting good quality sleep is equally as important as diet and exercise in regulating our weight. Again, this is a tricky one for mums. But, there’s a few things you can try doing to squeeze in a few extra hours of sleep. Napping at the same time your child for example. Or going to bed an hour earlier than normal. It can be tempting to want to stay awake for as much as your “alone time” as possible. But if you catch your extra Z’s, you’ll feel a lot of mental benefits too like an improved mood and reduced levels of stress.
It’s a good thing to note that if you try one of these weight loss tips for mums, and you just can’t do it right now or it’s not working, then change it! Give something else a go and dip your toe in the different waters.
Managed to squeeze one of these into your routine too? Great! Onto the next step.
Step three: finding your balance
You’re getting the idea. Add another thing to your routine that will help your mental or physical health. You’ve done it twice already now, you can do it a third!
More weight loss tips for mums? Don’t mind if we do!:
Meal prepping: Time to raid the tupperware cupboard! Meal prepping is a great way to have your breakfast, lunch and/or dinners ready to go within a moments notice. Give yourself a regular day where you know you’ll have a bit of free time (and when you’re not mentally exhausted!) to prep up some healthy and ready to go meals. There’s a few good ideas over on Tasty, but there’s also plenty of videos on YouTube to give you some ideas too!
Resist eating up your kid’s leftovers: One of our pitfalls! our child leaves behind food on their plate and we are tired and hungry and pooch it off. Make it your mantra to avoid eating what they leave on their plates!
Reduce cakes, biscuits and sweets: This one is the bane of us all! An important thing to note: you should not tell yourself that you are cutting it out altogether! If you really and dearly want that slice of cake, then you deserve it! Go for it, and don’t tell yourself “no”. All you should consider doing is reducing the amount of that thing you are having gradually. No sudden changes, no quick decisions. Take your time with it. Because life is too short to not have that tesco jam doughnut every once in a while!
How are you doing? Mastered this one? Okay, next step!
Step four: Walking
So, this is what it’s been leading up to. This is what the base work has been for. This is where we get on the road and figure out how to lose weight.
And, here’s a surprise, you’re already doing it. You’ve walked three steps already, and you’ve done them at your own pace.
By this point, you will have taught yourself the ways in which you personally find your body is able to change. You can find the ideal ways to convince your body to do little changes without cutting out anything that you don’t want to.
Understandably, this is a long haul approach, and the weight will not fly off. But remember, this weight didn’t arrive overnight, it won’t leave overnight either.
Keep on keeping on with new weight loss tips
From here, it’s as simple as carrying on! Keep on introducing new things into your lifestyle that will help you and your health. Gradually, you’ll be a completely different person to the one you once were. But, patience is key! Do not try to rush your health.
The NHS have listed a few more ways you can improve your healthy eating here (if you are looking for more ideas).
Oh, and we have just one more extra point to say to those who want to lose weight.
Remember: try to love your body
This world is made up of so many different people, and the wobbly bits that make us different make us wonderful! The world can offer all sorts of tips on how to get healthier. But, that’s exactly it. You should think about wanting to be healthy, mentally and physically. Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean researching how to lose weight. Being healthier may mean for you to figure out how to love yourself.
So we want to say this: big shout out to the mum bods, the mum tums and your wobbly bits.
If you are reading this as a new mum, remember that it took nine months for your body to grow and change so it makes sense that it will take at least nine months to change back. The human body is miraculous. You did just grow a tiny human in there, remember? Do not punish or hate your body for achieving that amazing feat! Give it the extra love it needs.
And If you are reading this as a dad, well you have been carrying the stresses and the weight of supporting your partners through all this too! Do not feel bad for gaining a little weight in the process. This weight was gained through love and care for your family. Give it a little bit of love too!
Disclaimer: We are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about your health.If you are severely concerned about your own or a loved one’s weight/health, then you should contact your GP to seek out help.
This award means even more to us all at Team Happity after weathering the storm of the past year – with all that the Covid pandemic threw at us and our industry.
We won an award – despite tough competition
This award means so much because there were over 1,500 nominations this year coming in from all over the world for the inaugural Baby Innovation Awards. The competition was extremely fierce. And we’re over the moon to win in our category. It means such a lot. But we couldn’t have done it without all our amazing class providers who list and book their classes on Happity and the thousands of parents who use our app and website to find baby and toddler classes near them. Thank you to each and every one of you! Your support really does mean a lot.
It’s been a tough year – why we won an award means so much more
The past year and beyond has been so tough for so many. As a relatively new small business whose whole market is about baby and toddler classes the Covid restrictions and the lockdowns meant we had to pivot our whole business almost overnight.
When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020 suddenly all the baby and toddler classes we listed were not able to run. We were disappointed – but not at all ready to roll over and give up!
Yes – as parents – we were at home juggling homeschooling with work (whilst also failing to bake banana bread!) But we also worked our socks off to make sure Happity had the best chance of surviving. So that our providers businesses could survive. And so that parents could get the support they so desperately needed.
When everyone was doing Joe Wicks workouts and making the most of their one daily walk we were working working weekend and evenings to switch Happity into a listing and booking service for Zoom classes that would be a lifeline to so many parents.
Pivoting business overnight!
When the first lockdown hit we put in a lot of time and effort to let our class providers know how to switch from in person classes to Zoom classes. We did everything we could to make the transition as easy as possible. And switched over all our Happity listings to list the growing number of Zoom classes for babies and toddlers. We did all we could to let our class providers continue with their classes online. And we also knew that we were helping so many parents in lockdown by making sure they had baby classes to break up their long lockdown days.
Those early lockdown days were LONG if you were at home with an energetic baby or toddler in tow!
Happity was set up to connect parents and combat loneliness. We felt that it was needed more than ever in lockdown. Even if we all had to connect over Zoom!
The battle to get baby & toddler classes in the guidelines
Each time lockdown restrictions were listed there were very confused and vague guidelines for class providers. Baby and toddler class leaders were unsure whether they could run or not. And very confused about what they had to do to run. There were pages and pages of government guidance but nothing specific to our sector.
Sara (our Happity co-founder) soon became an expert in the government guidelines (seriously, she could write a PhD on it!) and helped so many class providers by sending out regular emails explaining the nuances of whether and how they could run.
But – it still was so frustrating that we had to wade through pages and pages to send out clear guidelines to our class providers to let them know what was what!
And so we campaigned to get baby and toddler classes included in the guidelines. It wasn’t easy and sometimes progress was painfully slow. But through petitions and campaigning and loads of conversations with government ministers we were able to get clearer guidance for classes to reopen as lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Petition campaign of the year nomination
We were delighted to receive recognition for the amount or work and energy we put in to getting baby and toddler classes included in the guidelines. Emily Tredget – our co-founder – was nominated for Petition Campaign of the Year Award as part of the annual Your UK Parliament Awards.
She didn’t win – but she was up against Marcus Rashford! So – we will take that one!
We’re just glad that we could help baby and toddler groups open up again and understand the rules they had to follow whenever lockdown restrictions lifted. To help the many small businesses in our sector survive.
The fact that Happity has won an award is the icing on the cake.
We’re so happy baby & toddler classes are back
We’re super happy that classes are back. Class providers are doing such an amazing job putting in all the extra work to make sure classes are Covid safe. So that mums and dads (and carers and grandparents) can go back to classes and that all the babies born in lockdown can mix with other babies and parents again.
What a year it’s been!
It’s been a corona coaster! The past year (or 18 months now) has hit us all hard. New parents especially. And class providers so very much. It feels like hope is finally just around the corner. And – at Happity – we are working hard to make our business grow so we can help more new parents connect through baby and toddler classes. And help more class providers open up and find new customers – to help their small businesses thrive.
Parents and providers – we ALL deserve an award!
We wish that the government could give every parent and every class provider an award for making it through the pandemic! Goodness knows we deserve it.
We’re so grateful Happity won an award as Marketplace of the Year award! For the 2021 Baby Independent Innovation awards. And we dedicate it to you all.
Thank you to all the parents who booked a Happity at Home Zoom class during the pandemic. Thank you to all the class providers who listed their classes on Happity and provided such an important lifeline in the pandemic to parents. And thank you to all those who booked face to face classes through Happity once lockdown restrictions were lifted. You maybe don’t know just how much it means. Not just to us but to all the small businesses we represent.
Did you know that six weeks into motherhood, new mums should receive a mental health check? At the end of your six-week perinatal visit, your midwife should check on you as well as the baby. Well, there’s a high chance that you are a young mother who was hastily questioned in a fluster towards the end of a visitation or simply not asked at all.
But after announcements and effort put in by the government about paying more attention to this issue why is it still not working? If you are a new mum struggling emotionally and/or mentally how can you seek out the help that you need?
The announcement of mental health checks for new mums
According toNHS UK, 1 in 10 mums suffers from PND. This figure is likely higher following the pandemic too, but this issue was being addressed in the past.
In 2018, the NHS introduced a brilliantly progressive introduction to mental health checks for new mums. The idea being that 6-weeks after you have had your baby, your midwife should take time to check on your mental and emotional well-being.
This is a super important step forward in trying to tackle PND. The sooner that PND is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated! If someone can pick up on signs of PND at 6 weeks, then support and help can be put in place quickly.
Support for partners too?
In December of 2018. NHS England announced that new and expectant fathers would also be offered medical health checks. Yup. Dads suffering from PND, you were noticed too!
With growing figures of 1 in 10 new or expectant dads to be having symptoms of anxiety and depression, this was yet another issue that needed addressing. And, with this, they were offering treatments such as peer support, behavioural couples therapy sessions and other family interventions.
2018 marked a period where mental health in new parents was being addressed. It appeared that the issue was being taken seriously, and with an aim to reduce the figures, things were looking a little brighter for those suffering with PND.
What’s happened to the mental health checks for new mums?
Unfortunately, mental health checks have taken a dip from how highly they were prioritised on the agenda. Warning: here comes the numbers bit!
A high percentage of new mothers (85% according to an NCT survey released April of 2021) say the focus on appointments has been mostly on their babies. (That’s up 45% from 2019!). 60% said their check has been rushed at the end of their visit. And, 25% of parents from this 2021 figure said that they were not being asked about their mental health at all. This lead to a lot of young parents feeling rejected, ignored, and placed on a back-burner, where they are potentially left!
We asked mums in our community about their experiences with the 6-week mental health check-in’s. Here are a few things they said:
‘My doctor refused to do any 6-wk check for me or my baby… I had to make appointments and ‘fight’ to be seen.’
‘Mine was cancelled at 8 weeks. They have said it will be 10 weeks.’
‘They didn’t care at all about me considering I had a difficult labour and were in hospital for a week.’
‘My little one is 1 on Sunday and I have no check up and have never seen or heard (from them)…’
‘I asked for one and was refused.’
These responses, heart-breaking they may be, are not difficult to get your head around following the pandemic. And, as a quick reminder, we cannot shift blame to our midwives right now. Over 2020 and 2021, all NHS staff has seen a colossal amount of strain and is doing their best. We have to keep that in mind when looking at this drastic incline. But, still, we can’t ignore the fact that there are mothers who have truly suffered during the pandemic.
What’s the response?
The issue has clearly become an intimidatingly big issue through the duration of Coronavirus. But, thankfully, it has not gone under the radar of the government and the NHS.
Following these results, the NHS responded by saying they would start opening “Mental health hubs” for new, expectant and bereaved mothers.
This is a long term plan, stating ‘ten sites will be up and running within months’ and ‘every area will have one by April 2024’. As well as offering ‘psychological therapies’ these hubs will provide appropriate training for maternity staff and midwives. This, in time, means parents going through a tough time will receive the mental health support they need.
So, that means we have good news in the long run! NHS has got a long term plan in place for trying to resolve this problem (We are being heard, thank you NHS!). But what about those currently suffering? We have a 3-year waiting period between here and 2024. New mums will still be suffering from their mental health. So, what should they do?
How do I ensure I get a mental health check as a new mum?
If you are in a strong enough mindset, then it would seem that the answer is to just push. These checks are important and if you think you have it in you to fight for it, then armour up and hit the battle stations! Either contact your GP or tell your midwife that you need it to be made more of a priority. And if it doesn’t happen immediately, keep pushing! Want to take it further? Maybe it’s a good time to start a petition to get the issue raised in parliament.
But, not everyone always feels capable or able to push when in that grey-cloud headspace.
If you feel like you might know someone who understands what you’re going through, it’s a good idea to reach out to them! Whether they’re parents themselves or you know they potentially suffer from their mental health. It’s very likely they will make for a good shoulder to lean on.
However, if what you’re feeling is quite severe, we have some more information on support for PND here. There are some brilliant charities that you can call (PANDAS and MumsAid just to list a couple). They specialise in specifically helping parents suffering mentally. If you feel that you might be in danger, your best option will be to call 999 or call the Samaritans.
Regardless of how it may feel at times, there are people out there willing to listen. There are people who know how to help. Please, reach out to someone, because it can get better.
A lot of parents assume that the benefits of baby and toddler classes are mostly for the parents. They’re a great way to meet other mums and dads, and finding your tribe makes parenting so much easier.
But toddler classes are not just a place to hear a choir of mums and dads singing baby shark with half-a-dozen giggles. They actually have a ton of surprising benefits that will be preparing your little one for school in advance! We wouldn’t expect anyone to be thinking that far in advance, but it’s exciting to learn how much classes could be helping!
Here’s just a few ways that all the play and fun they have at classes are an important part of early learning:
1. Story time at toddler classes – introducing reading and phonics
We all know how much little ones love hearing stories. You may be all-too familiar with the regular books that pop up at story-time’s (Gruffalos are not a myth and many a Tiger will probably come to many a tea!). But, did you know that this hearing these stories are helping to develop their reading skills?
The repetition of these stories helps to introduce new concepts like phonics, rhythms and sounds. This will really help children build the foundation of skills needed to learn to read later on.
2. Moving and grooving is more than just fun!
According to the NHS, once your child is walking, they should be staying active for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) of the day! A toddler class is a great way to encourage toddlers to begin exercising in a group. They begin preparing them for physical education and perhaps encouraging them to join sports teams in the future.
All the moving and grooving is helping them with gross motor skills, which will continue to develop as they grow.
What might look like “Play Time” at your toddler group or baby class is actually far more developmental than it might appear.
Simply letting your child squish a ball of Play-Doh helps them to develop fine motor skills their hands and fingers. While riding around and driving a toy Coupe Car helps to develop other gross motor skills.
Developing motors skills from an early age will benefit them when they come to learning more complex skills at nursery and school. Like holding a pencil and beginning to write.
So next time your toddler gifts you their latest Jackson Pollock imitation painting, remember that they’ve developed more than just their artistic talents!
4. One, two, three, four, five, now my child is counting right!
As many times as you have heard those familiar favourite nursery rhymes, they are still a fairly new concept to your little ones. Hearing them repeatedly is helping to introduce and teach counting at an early age. This might mean that maths comes a little bit easier for them when it comes to nursery and school.
These nursery rhymes often include movements that will be using our fingers too, very useful for also helping out with teaching toddlers motor skills again. (And the more opportunities to help with that, the better!)
5. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, here we go around again – Routines
Finding a class that connects with you and your little one (one that includes a snack time or tidy-up time) is a great opportunity to introduce the idea of routines.
Introducing this concept at a young age will make it less of an alien concept when it comes to that daunting first day of nursery. Which hopefully means it will be a dry-eyed drop off. Well, from your kids at least!
6. Benefits of teaching manners& etiquette at baby and toddler classes
We sometimes forget that something that is an afterthought for us hasn’t been taught to our children yet. Basic manners and understanding the correct time to speak or stay quiet would not even cross your mind.
But baby and toddler classes are a great opportunity to teach all the basics. Greetings, Turn-taking, sitting in an allocated spot and please’s/thank you’s all start to happen all around your child.
This encourages them to copy and do the same. Before you know it, they’ll be holding doors open for others and unnecessarily apologise as much as the rest of the UK.
7. Benefits of cleaning at baby & toddler classes
It’s more than likely that you have simply got used to cleaning up after your little one by now. But, we should definitely be encouraging them to pick up after themselves and clean up. It’s an important habit to enforce while your child is young so that they are ready when attending nursery for the first time.
Attending a toddler group might be just the thing to helping your child learn all the correct social skills that influence tidying up your own belongings and leaving a room as neat as possible.
8. Introduction to other cultures
Little ones are the least likely to judge another based on their background. But every child gets to an age where they will ask questions about that which is different. Baby classes are a great way to begin to introduce your little ones to different families of different backgrounds.
This might be to race, religion, or perhaps different family dynamics such as single parents & LGBTQ+ parents. This will lead to a hopefully judgement-free time when that dreaded first day of school finally arrives.
9. Social skills & the benefits of emotional understanding at toddler and baby classes
This next point might feel like an obvious (but important!) one. Being surrounded by other parents and children may be one of the main reasons that you would book a class in the first place.
But establishing those crucial social skills will really help your toddler in the future. It’s important for your child to understand social cues and learn how to make friends. But by attending these classes you may also be introducing them to new concepts like empathy. If another child is upset, your toddler might start to question why that is and try to help make them feel better.
Maybe one of the reasons you’re slightly worried about your little one going to nursery is because you have a clingy tot? Well we have a list of tips to try and help your toddler overcome this, check them out here!
Maybe your child is nearly ready for heading off to nursery! But are you?
When you find a mum friend it’s a game changer. Mum friends make the good days better and the tough days easier. Mum friends are brilliant. Here’s why!
And dad friends too! Dads – replace with ‘Dad friends’ as appropriate!
1. You share your birth story before even finding out key details
The need to talk about your birth story is real. When you meet a mum friend chances are you’ll both share your birth story – warts and all – before even finding out what their partner is called or what they do or used to do for a living!
2. They’re there when nobody else is
If you’re up in the wee small hours you can feel like the only one up. But – chances are your mum friend is up too. They’re also there in the daytime when all your other friends are at work. And they’re there when you text or message to make you feel less alone.
3. They make the boring bits of parenting more bearable
Soft play, parks, walks…they’re all better if you have your mum friend with you! Even if you never get the chance to finish a conversation because you’re constantly interrupted by your kids! The day to day of parenting is more fun when you’ve got a mum friend by your side.
4. Mum friends never judge
They see you at your best but also at your worst. On those days when you’re exhausted and can barely cope. On those days when it’s all too much and you cry. On those days when you feel like the worst mother ever. But they never judge you. They give you tea and cake and hold your baby. And – if you need them to -they’ll hold you too. And make everything that little bit better
5. They’ll cheer you on when you need it most
If you’re down they’ll pick you up. If you’re struggling they’ll go out of their way to make each day a little easier. And they’ll always make you feel like a better parent even when you’re doubting yourself.
6. You can have the most honest (no holds barred) chats
You begin your friendship sharing intimate details about birth and – as you go on – you open up and share the vulnerable sides of you. Knowing your mum friend will listen and get it. From laughing together about the things that drive you mad. To opening up and crying about the harder bits that make you sad.
7. Mum friends stick by you even when you’re grumpy or tired
Because they get it! And they know there will be plenty of days when they’re a bit snappy and worn out too.
A recent post on our Facebook page revealed that too many parents are feeling desperate and ignored because their baby has reflux but they struggle to get a diagnosis and support. It can be heartbreaking if your baby cries unconsolably. If you ask for help and feel dismissed, it is harder still.
I asked for help but was ignored
“One midwife told me I just had an ‘irritable baby’ and that I was ‘tired’. Another health visitor over the telephone told us to try her back on normal formula and plough on through.”
These are the words from one mum in a BBC report on reflux diagnosis in babies.
Another reported a paediatrician suggesting her baby was crying all the time because she was “bored”.
Becky Palmer, who graduated from Aberystwyth Law School, and was inspired by her own experiences with baby reflux to give up her job as a solicitor and start a reflux and colic support group for parents, Colic SOS, commented in the BBC report: “Some health visitors are very much on board with it and will push GPs to help, but then you hear stories of parents really having to fight to be heard.”
Mum’s battles to get a reflux diagnosis
We asked mums to share their own experiences and their replies are eye-opening.
Here are just a few of their stories:
“Silent reflux was something that I really think contributed to my PND. I barely had any sleep for months. My baby cried and screamed so much that it was exhausting.”
“I was told my babies reflux was a ‘laundry problem not a medical problem’. Every time I asked for help they asked me if I was a first time mum, which suggested they thought I was just fussing and somehow making it up. It was heart breaking seeing her in pain and so, so tiring”
“Being ignored and dismissed whenever we asked for help was such a cause of stress and anxiety. All we could do was keep on going back to the GP and insisting that my baby’s symptoms be reviewed to finally get a diagnosis and support”
The signs and symptoms of reflux in babies
How do you know if your baby might have reflux? Here are some of the signs to look out for. If you notice any and are worried, ask your GP about reflux and ask for advice and help:
Your baby might fuss over feeds or avoid feeding
They might bring up sick during or shortly after a feed
They may choke, cough or hiccup during feeds
You might notice their back arching and their head turning
Your baby might stretch out flat – this reduces pain. Instead of snuggling up to you they may stretch out flat after a feed
They might cry for long periods and be irritable during and after feeds
Their cries might sound hoarse
Your baby might be slow gaining weight
They might not be sick after feeds but you still might notice some of the symptoms above – this could be silent reflux
One of the things our post about reflux highlighted was the importance of getting a diagnosis for reflux. If your baby has any of the symptoms and signs above and if, in your gut, you just feel that something is not right then seek medical advice. And, if you feel like you are not being listened to – ask again!
How to help your baby if they have reflux
Your GP or health visitor will be able to advise you as to the best things to try to soothe your baby and help with relflux. This might include the best positions for feeding. Or giving shorter and more frequent feeds. If you find that nothing you have been advised is working then do go back to your GP for further help.
If you find yourself struggling with depression on anxiety then visit our PND page for advice and places to go to get help.
Disclaimer: We have researched and included robust sources to provide information in this article. However, we are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby’s health.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a pregnancy condition that was propelled into the spotlight recently. When Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, suffered with in throughout all three of her pregnancies. However, it is something which is still largely misunderstood. And- wrongly – thought of by many as ‘bad morning sickness’.
For those that suffer with hyperemesis gravidarum it is much worse than ‘just a bit of morning sickness’. One mum has written an honest and candid Facebook post about what it feels like – not just physically, but emotionally.
Jo Stark is an exercise physiologist, who lives in Adelaide. She writes about how hyperemisis gravidarum affected her in her fourth pregnancy. Here is Jo’s story:
NO. Please NO. It is SO much more than ‘just a bit of morning sickness’. Today (May 15th 2021) is Hyperemesis Gravidarum awareness day so here’s a bit of my most recent brush with HG. HG is debilitating. HG is a potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease. It can cause malnutrition, dehydration and debility due to severe nausea and vomiting, and may cause long term health issues for mum and baby.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum – can take away the joy of being pregnant
HG is cruel in so many ways. It can take away the joy in being pregnant. It takes away from a beautiful pregnancy announcement to friends and family as you reach the second trimester milestone (I haven’t been able to hide any of my pregnancies beyond 7 weeks yet). It taints the little moments you think you’ll have, like being able to take pleasure in ‘eating for two’ and seeing that little baby bump growing. But mostly, for me at least, it takes away the bond you make with the little baby growing in you.
The worry that HG brings
In those first weeks you are emotionally charged with new found pregnancy hormones. But the vomiting and nausea are unrelenting and you’ve lost so much weight that you worry for your unborn child’s health. It’s easy to find yourself in a dark place mentally, wondering why you are putting your family through this (again).
The mum guilt starts even before your baby is born
You start feeling guilty… that you can’t even make it to the toilet to vomit cleanly and that your kids have to watch. That you physically can’t get yourself up off the floor to make your kids a sandwich to eat for lunch so you end up giving them a 3rd pack of chips for the morning while they watch their 2nd movie.
You begin to worry that you are not even being a decent mum to the kids you already have. So how on earth is it a good idea to even be considering bringing another one into the world?
And you feel for not being able to keep it together like so many other people manage to. Ending up in hospital needing IV fluids and multiple medications – but feeling guilty about the time spent away from family, so coming home and vomiting some more even though you really should have stayed in hospital to recover just a little bit more.
How HG takes its toll
It sucks. And it doesn’t necessarily stop when you hit the magical second trimester. If you’re lucky you may get it under control with a concoction of medications and pick yourself up enough to get through with a smile. But the sheer exhaustion takes it toll. Physically. Emotionally.
Raising awareness of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
So what is the point of this post? Awareness. Understanding. The more people accept that HG is a severe medical condition that should be treated early and without judgement, the better off a women’s mental and physical health is likely to be.
The more people are aware of it, the less likely people are to hear of our symptoms and say “Have you tried ginger?” or “I found that eating regularly helped keep my nausea at bay”. Without wanting to sound rude, that’s just not helpful. If the 3 different drugs I’m taking from the hospital aren’t helping curb the vomiting, I’m not sure what the heck ginger is supposed to do for me (if I could even keep it down to begin with)?
Maybe if medical professionals were taught more about it and ways of managing it I wouldn’t have to hear things like “Well, you just need to eat something. You don’t want a dead baby do you?” from a nurse treating you in hospital, when I’m at my most vulnerable.
Support for those suffering
And lastly, support.
Be that village for the brave mummas suffering with HG who don’t want to ask for help because they already feel like they’re failing.
Ask how they are and what you can do to help or bring round some dinner (for the rest of the family to enjoy ).
I’m so lucky that I have some incredible support around me, but I know that there are so many others that are suffering in silence.
Let’s create the village it takes to raise these beautiful, tiny humans.
by Jo Stark
Where to go to find support
Pregnancy Sickness Support is a registered UK charity. They work to improve the care, support and treatment for those suffering with hyperemisis gravidarum and severe morning sickness. They have a wealth of information and advice on their website, as well as an online support forum and details for their helpline.
You can also get support and share your experiences in The Parent Hub – our friendly Facebook group for mums.
For support with post natal depression and anxiety see the PND section of our blog.
Disclaimer: We have researched and included robust sources to provide information in this article. However, we are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about you or your baby’s health.
It’s actually happening! Your little one is starting nursery or preschool and you’re super excited – as well as a little bit nervous. Being prepared can help ease your nerves. Knowing what to pack for nursery can make you feel more prepared. Here’s your nursery packing checklist so you feel less frazzled!
Packing it all up in a backpack
Your child will have a peg at nursery where you can hang a backpack with all their kit and caboodle that you’ve carefully packed for their busy day. Choose one that’s small enough for them to carry but big enough to house everything they need for their day at preschool.
Messy munchkins – packing spare clothes
When your child starts nursery they will be having lots of fun – and a lot of that will be messy play! Whether it’s squishing playdough, making mud pies in the nursery garden or splodging paint. Remember too your child might spill food down their clothes at snack or meal times too. They could even have so much fun playing that they have a little accident or two. So one of the main things you should pack is a spare set of clothes to change into if they need to. Another key item is a pinny or an apron for messy play (unless the nursery provides!)
Indoor (and outdoor) shoes
Your child might need indoor shoes to change into when they go into nursery. They might also need outdoor shoes or wellies for outside play or nursery trips.
Packing for snacks and mealtimes
Your child will need lots of snacks and meals to give them fuel to play. If you’re breastfeeding send in bottles of expressed milk. If you’re bottle feeding then pack your little one’s formula. You might need to send in spare bottles and teats. If your toddler is a little older – your nursery might ask you to send daily snacks. Or they might provide them. It’s always best to check.
Nursery is thirsty work
Unless your child’s nursery supplies bottles, sip cups or cups for drink times you will need to pack a drinking vessel for your child each day. Your little one will need to stay hydrated for all that busy play. Top tip – make the bottle or cup you choose spill-proof!
Nappies and knickers!
If your baby or toddler is still in nappies then you’ll probably need to pack a supply of nappies, wipes, nappy cream and nappy sacks. If they’re potty trained they might still have accidents so packing spare pants is essential.
Dressing for the weather
We all know that in the UK there can be four seasons in one day! Depending on the season make sure your child has clothes and supplies for every weather. A warm coat, hat and gloves in the winter. Layers, sunscreen and a sunhat for sunnier days.
Your child may well have a nap at nursery and you will want to make sure you pack everything they need to snooze happily. That could include a blanket, sheet or comforter. Check with your child’s nursery for what they will need for their naps.
Your little one might want to take a special toy or blanket to nursery to soother them at nap times or when they are feeling a little wobbly. Your nursery might have a policy around comforters so check first. If they ask your child to leave comforters at the door but you feel your child still needs one often they will have a nursery toy that can help your child feel safe and that can be an alternative.
If you’re child has a very favourite toy then they will be distraught if it gets lost on its way to and from nursery. So either buy a back up identical toy to keep in a safe place as a replacement. Or choose a special toy for nursery that won’t be the end of the world if it goes missing.
If your baby or toddler is teething then you might want to send in any teething toys, gels or powders into nursery.
Don’t forget medicines
If your child takes any daily medicines or needs emergency medicinal supplies makes sure that they you take them into your nursery. The nursery staff will need you to full out forms and will store any medical supplies safely. If your child has any medical condition always talk to the staff and make sure they are fully aware of their condition and any medication they need.
What to pack for nursery – Contact details
Make sure your child’s nursery have your up to date contact details as well as emergency contacts. It’s very easy to forget to update these if you update or change your mobile phone and number. So make a note to always make sure your nursery has the very latest contact details should you need to be contacted.
One thing to make sure you do is to label everything your child takes to nursery. You can buy iron-in or stick-on name labels to make the job quick and easy. We also love Stamptastic name stamps, which mean you can label everything in super quick time.
Starting nursery – troubleshooting for parents!
Starting nursery or preschool is a big step. It might be the first time you and your child have been separated. And you might feel anxious about it.
If your child finds it hard to settle then talk to and be guided by the nursery staff. They’ve settled so many little ones (and their parents) and will have so many ideas and strategies in place to help your child settle in.
It’s been a long road to reopening for baby classes. But finally indoor classes parent and child classes are coming back. You might be feeling really excited about the chance to get back to classes – or go to them for the first time. But you might also be feeling a little nervous about indoor parent and child classes too.
Covid safety measures for indoor classes
Rest assured, properly run baby and toddler classes are operating as professional businesses, with high safety standards and your best interests at heart.
Everyone has been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to complete their covid-safety training, undertake full risk assessments, and work with local authorities to ensure classes are as safe as possible. ❤️
What to expect from indoor classes
Here are just a few of the examples of the things you can expect from returning classes:
⭐️markers or mats placed 2m apart or more ⭐️controlled entry / exit points ⭐️hand sanitisers on site ⭐️’one use only’ sanitised equipment – no sharing between families ⭐️appropriate use of face coverings (this might be ‘mask to mat’ in some settings so you can remove your mask once in position – face coverings may need to be kept on in others) ⭐️use of microphones and visors for class leaders, reducing the need to project voices ⭐️smaller class sizes, in larger venues
Some providers also are putting in place extra measures, like having temperature checks on the door, and allowing families to purchase their own kit that they can bring to each class.
Nervous about joining an indoor baby class?
Even before Covid you might feel a little nervous about going to a baby or toddler class. We get it. Walking into a room of strangers can be daunting. The whole ‘new girl at school’ feeling can creep up on you.
Feeling like the new girl at school!
Nicola from Team Happity recalls how nervous she felt whenever she went to a new baby class (pre-Covid):
“I was so desperate to meet other mums and make friends. But every time I joined a new class I felt a real rush of anxiety before I walked into the room. I wouldn’t know anyone. Would anyone like me? What would I do? How would I talk to other mums?
Most of the time either the class leader or another mum would put me at ease and say ‘hello’ and welcome me. And having a baby was an easy way into talking to other parents. That’s what we had in common and asking questions about our babies was an easy conversation opener”
If you’re nervous about going to an indoor parent and child class here are some top tips.
Top tips to make going to a baby group less daunting
Make sure you know where the group is and how to get there – The last thing you want to do (when you’re nervous already) is to turn up at a class or group at the wrong time. Research local groups, book your place and maybe even do a recce to make sure you know how to get there.
Start the conversation – Babies and children are a great leveller. It’s easy (but daunting) to start a conversation with mother mum at a parent and child group. You can ask them about their child’s teething toy, compliment them on their child’s outfit, ask the mum if she’s been to the group before…Once you’ve opened up the conversation you might find it leads you to more chat. If not – talk to other mums. You’re all there to connect.
Lower your expectations – In lockdown we’re all desperate to get out there and meet new mums friends! When baby groups are open we want to walk in and find our new mum BFF instantly! We know you’re excited but lower your expectations. A group of mums in a room might have one thing in common – babies around the same age. But that doesn’t mean they will instantly be best friends. That takes times. You might have to join more than one group and talk to more mums to meet the ones you really click with. Keep going. It happens. You’ll find your tribe in the end.
Don’t give up after the first time – you might be shy when you first go to a class. Or your baby might be clingy and not seem to have joined in. You might feel like you’ve made no connections and feel a bit left out or lonely. Don’t give up. It takes time to make friends. Joining a class gives you a shared experience. Smile, be friendly and approachable and keep going. Over time friendships might develop. If you give up after one or two classes feeling shy and uncomfortable you will never know if you might have found friends by sticking with it.
Be brave and suggest a next step – If you have enjoyed talking to another mum at a group be brave and suggest keeping in touch and meeting up again. Chances are they’ll be delighted you’ve made the first move. You could go for a socially distanced walk together or meet up in your garden. Go for it and make that first step towards what could be the first step to making a new mum friend.
Booking your indoor classes
As a community, we care hugely about the safety and wellbeing of parents and their children – and none of us have taken the decision to return to classes lightly. There are higher costs, and greater risks. This means you might find classes need to be booked in blocks, or that they are only transferrable to online classes if there is a local lockdown or the situation changes.
For classes that are coming back, their small biz owners have put in weeks, if not months of planning and hard work, just so that they can get back to you – all the families that have missed them – as soon, but as safely as possible! ❤️
Please support your local class providers – visit happity.co.uk to book your favourite classes.
We would also LOVE you to spread the word about Covid-safe classes by sharing our post on Instagramand Facebook.
Not quite ready yet?
Although the government roadmap allows indoor parent and child classes to return (in England – and hopefully very soon in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) you might not feel ready yet to go back. That’s understandable. And totally OK. There will still be many online interactive classes on Zoom. Check Happity to find amazing online classes that you can join from the comfort of your own home.