Lisa shares with us her experiences with a traumatic birth and dealing with PND, PTSD and Postnatal Anxiety. She has discussed sensitive subjects in this submission, all in the hope that it will help anyone who is currently going through a similar situation. If you yourself are currently dealing with PND, PTSD and/or Postnatal Anxiety, please do not suffer alone. Seek help if you can.
We want to give a trigger warning beforehand: Lisa has warned that the following submission discusses a traumatic birth and maternal mental health. Thank you for sharing with our community, Lisa. 💜
It’s fair to say that my labour story was not the one that I had planned. It’s a twisting tale full of complications that meant the actual event was nothing like the natural birth that I had hoped for.
From the second my labour started, I knew that things were not quite right, and I wasn’t wrong; I had previously undetected pre-eclampsia, maternal sepsis, hyponatremia, blood loss and a postpartum haemorrhage that left me fighting for my life. My son also had sepsis and hyponatremia. It was a difficult and scary time for all of us. But I will forever be grateful to the NHS workers who saved our lives and looked after us for the week we were under their care. Although things were tough, that first night together my son slept holding my finger all night and the love and protection that I felt for him overwhelmed me. Whatever happened, with my husband, we were an invincible team of 3.
Dealing with trauma and guilt
Following my son’s birth, I was broken. The recovery was long, and I was wracked with frustration and guilt. I felt that the birth going wrong was somehow my fault and I was resentful that the movie scene moment that I had pictured hadn’t happened.
It’s no surprise that my mental health suffered following all of this and over the next couple of years I experienced PND, PTSD and postnatal anxiety. Although I have the most incredible husband, family & friends, I kept most of what I was experiencing to myself. And I kept being selective with what I shared with people about how I was feeling. I was having intrusive thoughts and I was so worried that if I told people the full extent of everything, they would take my son away . There was a (un)healthy dose of paranoia involved too! I was so determined that how I was feeling would not affect my ability to be an amazing Mum and so just carried on pretending that everything was ok.
Seeking help for PND, PTSD and postnatal anxiety
As with all emotional health issues the more you try and suppress them, the more insistent they get to be noticed. For a while, I was in a cycle of being OK through to panic attacks and back to being OK again. So earlier this year after three years of riding this emotional rollercoaster I decided enough was enough. I reached out and was referred to a psychotherapist. Almost immediately after the first session I felt lighter, safer, and understood. My worst fears at sharing those hidden thoughts did not come true. She was understanding and helped me to realise that what I was experiencing was (sadly) common and not insurmountable. She has given me hope that I will fully recover, and my PND, PTSD & anxiety will be a thing of the past very soon.
I am now almost at the end of my sessions with my therapist and it’s like the clouds have parted and I no longer feel guilty for the complications during my labour. I have solid strategies to manage my anxiety and I am feeling ready to live life to the full again.
To those out there who are struggling with PND, PTSD and postnatal anxiety:
For anyone out there reading this and going through the same thing I have these messages:
- You are not alone
- It’s not your fault
- It’s ok to let people know what’s going on
- It can get better with some help
- You are a wonderful parent and are doing the best you can
My son is now three and a half he is quite simply, miraculous. He went through so much, but you’d never know. He is my little lion and I love seeing the world through his eyes; his excitement and wonder at everyday things, and how quick he is to laugh uncontrollably at the smallest joke. When he holds my hand, I am reminded of that first night together in the hospital. And of the unbreakable love that we have. I am so glad that I found the support I needed. We feel rest assured that we can now carrying on exploring the world together happily. And I hope that anyone reading this feels supported & encouraged to do the same.
Where can you seek help?
Thank you Lisa so much for sharing such a sensitive and vulnerable perspective. It can be incredibly difficult to reach out for help, and you are incredibly inspiring for doing so yourself.
If you yourself feel that you need to reach out for help, then we recommend that you contact your GP to tell them how you are feeling. Or, get in touch with charities specifically created to talk to you when you are struggling, such as PANDAS.
Find out more on our Mental Wellness & PND support page.
Would you like to share YOUR story?
We’d love to hear from you. This Is Family is all about sharing family stories – especially from families who feel like their voices are not often heard. Every family has a unique story to tell. We’d love to hear yours. Find out how you can feature on our blog and get involved. So that other parents can feel less alone.