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Emily Tredget, one of the co-founders of Happity, suffered with severe PND and anxiety following the birth of her son. It made her feel ‘like a failure’ but once she  started to recover she wanted to help other mums overcome the illness. Here, she shares her story of recovery from PND. In the hope that no other mum has to feel like she did. And – if they do- they know how and where to get help and that they will get better.

Masking the truth

When you look at the photo above, what do you see?

A happy mum holding her gorgeous baby boy?

Sometimes a picture can tell a thousand lies.

I look so happy in this photo but inside I was suffering. Behind the smile I was in the midst of severe postnatal depression and anxiety.

This photo was taken just before going to my friend’s wedding.The build up to going had been tough. I had been hiding myself at home and had not felt able to face the world without having a panic attack. Before going to this wedding I had spent weeks over-analysing everything and meticulously planning ways to ‘escape’ if my PND overwhelmed me.

From a confident woman to an anxious wreck

Before I gave birth I was a confident, go-getter, yes-type person. An extrovert who loved working as part of a busy team. You could throw anything at me and I’d find a way to make it happen. With enthusiasm and drive.

When PND took hold even the thought of meeting my best friend for coffee flooded me with anxiety.

I was also exhausted. Not just the usual sleep deprivation that all new mums face but a fatigue that completely floored me. When my baby son slept at night I lay awake with crazy adrenalin and intrusive thoughts. I was surviving on about one hour’s sleep a night.

I couldn’t be left alone with my baby boy

It got to the stage where I was feeling so shaky and weak that I couldn’t be left alone with my baby. I was terrified that I would faint or have a panic attack when I was alone with him. It really affected how I bonded with him. I didn’t feel that rush of love that other mums talk about and that made me feel like a failure. And like I had to hide it from the rest of the world.

Masking PND

The first steps to recovery

I suffered for months before finding professional help. I did go to my GP very early on and talked about how I was feeling but because I was so ‘articulate’ (their words not mine!) about how I was feeling and what I was doing to help myself I don’t think they picked up on how bad things really were. I was given sleeping tablets to help with the insomnia but it was a little while before I was able to access specialised help to treat postnatal depression and anxiety.

Recovery from PND – it’s good to talk

When I talked to my GP I was offered medication. I know that this helps for many but I chose to try talking therapy first. I found that relational dynamic therapy was the key to my recovery. It was not a quick ‘fix’ by any means, but slowly I started to feel more like myself and more able to process how PND, anxiety and post traumatic stress had affected me. And to work towards my recovery.

The turning point

One of the big turning points in my recovery was accepting how I was at the time. I was so desperate to try and get better. My husband too wanted to try lots of things to fix everything. And when both he and I started to accept who I was in the moment it helped a lot. My husband told me ‘I love you. I will be with you. If this is what you are like for the rest of your life, that’s fine. I’m with you.’ And that took the pressure off. Instead of constantly trying and willing myself to get better I took things day by day. And it worked.

If you suffer from PND, you’re NOT alone

Having suffered from PND I wanted to help others. And so I set up an app called MummyLinks, which helped mums beat loneliness through meet-ups. A couple of years later MummyLinks and Happity joined forces which has been an amazing journey. Our mission is to combat loneliness by connecting parents through baby and toddler classes. Loneliness can be a real trigger for postnatal depression — it was certainly a big part of it for me. That’s why connecting parents is at the heart of all we do. Because it makes a real difference.

You can and will get better

If you are suffering with PND it is important to know that you will get better. You do have to put in the work and get help through counselling, medication or therapy. It’s a journey. Made better by surrounding yourself with people who understand. But you will get there in the end.

We have loads of information and advice about how and where to get support. Start by checking our PND page.

The first step – admitting and asking for help – is often the hardest. But it’s also your first step towards recovery from PND and so the best step to take.


You might also like

My PND Recovery: Talking, Tea and Tambourines

PND, PTSD and Post-Natal Anxiety – This Is Family

Find Your Tribe!

Nicola, from Team Happity, shares her story of PND recovery. In the hope that it will make any mum going through it feel less alone and believe that they will get better too.

If PND made any sense

If PND made any sense I would have had it after the birth of my first baby. A 39 hour labour, 12 weeks of colic and about two hours of sleep for months on end would surely impact my mental health – right? Apparently not!

And then I had my second baby…

My second birth was a totally different. I had the water birth I’d planned (and hoped) for my first. Labour was quick. After giving birth I felt euphoric, empowered and powerful. My new baby was an ‘easy baby’ right from the get go. I kind of hate that term but you know what I mean! She was content and easily settled. She slept well – meaning I got enough sleep to function even with a by-now- energetic toddler to look after too. It should have been an easy ride.

But PND makes no sense sometimes. And can sneak up on you when you don’t expect it.

It can happen to anyone. And it happened to me.

Starting to feel not like me

I started to feel anxious and disconnected. I found myself feeling lost and alone. I cried easily and a lot. Often I didn’t even know what I was crying about. I started to dread leaving the house and felt strange when I did.

The sticker on the kitchen clock

modern clock on the wall

One of the strangest things I did (that looking back should have raised massive alarm bells if I was in any state of mind to realise) was that I told myself I could get through each day and cope but only until 5.45pm. That was the usual time my husband came home from work. I stuck a little flower sticker on the kitchen clock and would look at it so many times throughout the day, watching the minutes tick by. If, for any reason (a late meeting, a late bus, just life!) my husband hadn’t arrived home by the time the second hand hit that sticker I felt my anxiety rising and would begin to panic.

On the days when my husband came home, even just a few minutes past the sticker, I was a mess. I practically thrust both my baby and toddler at him and crumpled. Often in a sobbing mess on the bedroom floor.

Denying I needed help

I knew that something was wrong. But I couldn’t admit it.

Once I told someone that I was struggling they’d think I was a rubbish mum or was failing. Wouldn’t they?

I didn’t understand why I was feeling like I was feeling. So why would anyone else?

I was also ashamed. Surely it was easier just to try and cope than admit I had a mental health problem?

But I knew I couldn’t carry on, day after day, feeling and acting the way I was. I did my utmost to hide it from the outside world but even that was getting harder to do.

PND recovery: taking the hardest step

At my next appointment with my health visitor (I can’t remember what it was for but it was for my baby really – not me) I burst into tears and opened up about what had been going on.

I was really lucky. My health visitor referred me to Bluebell and I only had to wait until the following week to start counselling.

PND recovery: time to talk

In my first counselling session I mostly just wept.

After holding my feelings in for so long it was like the dam burst and I couldn’t stop crying. But, as the weeks went on, I started to open up and to talk. I can’t explain how good it was to have that space to talk (and cry) freely and honestly, without the fear of upsetting or burdening anyone.

My counsellor helped me really understand my feelings and challenge any thoughts that this was somehow my fault and that I would never get better. The other way it helped was that whenever I struggled on a particular day I could kind of ‘shelve’ my panic, knowing that I only had to wait a few days before I was able to talk and get support to help me through.

The long journey back

Starting talking therapy for PND was not magic or a quick fix. It took a lot of time and a lot of strength. Recovery was definitely not linear. Whenever I felt myself going backwards and starting to struggle again I would panic and think that I’d never get better. But I had to learn to believe that each time I took a step back I knew I had made progress before and so getting back up and fighting again was a little bit easier.

Tambourines for my baby: tea and company for me

two women's hands holding cups of coffee

As I began to make progress I joined a baby music group. And that was another important step for my recovery. Which sounds a bit odd. In essence it was a group, where we sang songs together and our babies played little percussion instruments and joined in actions and dances. So far, so lovely. But it was like an oasis for me in my week.

For a start it was a reason to make myself get out of the house each week- however much I wanted to hide. The other mums there were lovely. It took a bit of time but, over the weeks we began to get to know each other better. And shared (warts and all) stories of our births! It’s funny how strong that need was to share those stories. We went from finding out each other’s names to swapping tales of episiotomies and epidurals almost in one breath!

And we soon became able to share the more honest bits about parenting too. Including all the tough bits. And, for the first time since I had my baby, I felt like I was not alone. And that really helped a lot.

Back to being me

Slowly, slowly I began to feel better. And more like me. And when I started to slip and feel wobbly then I found I had the skills to reframe my thoughts and work through them. A year after starting counselling I proudly announced that I was all fixed and ready to leave.

My very lovely and very wise counsellor recognised the fact that I was trying to put a neat timeline on my PND. As if it was something that I could file neatly in a box and tick off. She encouraged me to keep going and only stop talking therapy when I was really ready. That turned out to be a few months later.

Looking after my mental health

Today I am much more aware of my mental health and try to look after it in the same way as I look after my physical health. Probably more, in truth. If I ever notice myself starting to struggle – for me that’s when I start hiding and avoiding people and start to get snappy and tearful over little things – I seek help. Sometimes that’s just talking to a friend. Or making more of an effort to find time for me. It has included having more counselling in tougher times. And I’m no longer ashamed to admit it.

Oh, and those lovely women I met at baby music? They’re still friends to this day. Even though those tiny babies that used to shake their tambourines are now 20 and striding out into the big wide world. We’re meeting next week for one of our infamous ‘pot luck suppers’.

We used to talk about important issues like how to keep a toddler in bed so you can get just five more minutes sleep and why does Miss Rabbit in Peppa Pig have so many jobs. Now we swap tales of how to get your teenagers up so they don’t fritter away their days and how we feel about the latest drama between Liv and Dom in Married At First Sight Australia! You know, the important stuff!

I’m being glib. We do talk about those things but we also talk about the big stuff too. And help each other through.

Turns out that after finding help that helps what makes a massive difference is also finding friends who you can talk about that stuff with as you go through this mum malarkey really is one of the most important things after all.

Getting help for PND

If you are struggling with PND then head over to our PND page to find loads of ways to get help and support.

You might also like:

How to tell if it’s PND or the baby blues

16 things mums with PND wish you knew

The impact of the pandemic on new parents

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.

Lisa Thompson

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:

  1. You are not alone
  2. It’s not your fault
  3. It’s ok to let people know what’s going on
  4. It can get better with some help
  5. 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.


Read more from Happity

My PND recovery: Talking, tea and tambourines

How to support someone through PND

How to tell if it’s PND or baby blues

Loneliness is something that so many new mums (and dads) can feel. And it can be a huge factor in contributing to PND. Which is why, here at Happity, we want to create an easy way for parents to connect and find friendship and support.

Finding and joining baby and toddler classes is a great way to meet other parents and find your tribe. But there are other ways you can make friends too.

Which is why we have put together this directory so finding friends (either online or in person) is easier.

Please do bear in mind that this directory is a work in progress. Keep checking back as we add to it and make improvements.

Find your tribe – Apps

There are so many great websites and apps that you can use to find and connect with other mums and parents. Here are some of the biggest and best that you can try:

  • Peanut – Find a mum near you! Connect with women who are at a similar stage in life–from fertility, pregnancy and motherhood through to menopause. Just download the app and start matching with like minded mums.
  • Mush – They call themselves the friendliest app for mums. They unite mums in peer ‘pods’ of 5 – matching you with others with things in common. Download Mush here.
  • Parenthood IO – “We are your parent neighbourhood, giving you support and advice and a place where you can chat to other parents with similar interests who are going through the same things as you.” Download Parenthood IO here.
  • Frindow – “Our mission is to be a central hub for all things that can help you to make new friends and get connected.” Find out more about Frindow here.
  • Mothers At Home Matter – A Local meetups group based in Essex, Hertfordshire and North London. Find out more about Mothers At Home Matter here.
  • Bumble BFF – A friend finding app where you can detail what you’re looking for (including mum friends!). Download Bumble BFF here.
  • Frolo – An app for single parents to meet each other (friendships and dating). Download Frolo here.

Happity

Find baby and toddler classes near you to meet other parents and start to build friendships and find support.

Find your tribe – Location-based Facebook groups

If downloading new apps isn’t for you, then Facebook could be a key player in helping you to find your tribe. As a social media site that almost everyone is on, it could be one of the key places to start meeting like-minded parents.

A lot of groups are set up for specific locations so that you can get to meet parents near you in an instant!

Take a look at our map below to see if there are any friendly groups near you.

(Please note: The team at Happity do not regularly check how active these groups are. However if you spot a group that you know to be inactive -get in touch with us and we’ll update it when we can.)

Can’t find any groups in your area? We will be updating this map as we discover more groups across the UK, so do be sure to check in every so often to see any updates we’ve made.

But, alternatively, we also have found groups that are meant for parents nationwide below!

Find your tribe – Nationwide Facebook groups

Parent groups


We are driving to find as many active groups as we can to add, and the map is going to be an ongoing improvement over time!

Please get in touch with us here if you run a group that you think would make a great fit for our map or list.

We dearly hope that this directory will help in our ongoing goal to end loneliness for parents.

Good luck finding your tribe ❤️

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It can be upsetting (and frustrating) to see someone you love suffering from a mental health condition. Here are some ways that you can support them though PND.

We’ve written this for partners. From our own experiences of both having PND and supporting loved ones through a mental health condition. All the ways to provide support apply just as well if you’re a family member or friend.

It’s hard to see someone you love struggle

First of all let’s acknowledge that it’s really tough to see someone you love going through a hard time. It’s harder still if it’s your partner or spouse suffering with postnatal depression. You both were looking forward to welcoming your new baby into the world and had a vision of what it would be like. If your partner struggles it flips your vision of new parenthood on it’s head. And can be really hard to deal with. Add in your own overwhelm, learning to deal with all the challenges of caring for your newborn as well as a whole new level of sleep deprivation – then it’s harder still. So what can you do to support someone through PND?

1. Encourage them to seek help

It can be difficult for anyone to admit that they need help. Gently encourage your partner to seek the help and support they need. Make it as easy as you can. By giving them clear ways to reach out and ask for help. That might mean going with them to speak to their G.P or health visitor. Or showing them ways to get help in other ways, for example, by giving them details of the Pandas helpline. There are plenty of charities and options for them to reach out and start to talk.

2. Find out all you can about PND

laptop on top of bed

It’s important when supporting someone through PND to understand it. Do your research. Find out all you can about what it feels like; the signs and symptoms. Get a better understanding of what the one you love is going thorough. Check out our PND page as a first port of call.

It’s important to remember that this is not their fault and they can’t just snap out of it.

3. Assure them that they are a good mum

One of the biggest things anyone going through PND may feel is a misplaced sense of failure. That they are not a good enough mum. Assure them that they are. Outline all the ways they are. And keep reassuring them that they are a good mum despite their struggles.

4. Reassure them that you’re there (no matter what)

One of the most important things you can do to support your partner through PND is to let them know that you are there for them. No matter what. To let them know you’re here. You love them. And you’re not going anywhere. Be there consistently. To listen. And hold them. To understand. Their world might feel like it’s falling apart. Be their safe space and their rock.

5. Mobilise an army of help

Be hands-on when it comes to caring for your baby. Do all you can to take off the load when it comes to doing all the things that need to be done to look after and care for your little one. You might be juggling work commitments and other things, so also seek out others who can all pitch in and help too. That might mean reaching out to your family and friends to mobilise an army of help. They can help with so many things, little or large tasks. But they all ease the pressure. Whether it’s delivering meals or looking after your baby so your partner can get some space. Any help or support you can arrange can make a big difference.

Check though that any help you organise will not overwhelm your partner. She might not feel up to having people in the house to look after your baby, but might be able to deal with her mum/sister/friend taking your baby out for a walk so that she can rest.

6. Ask what you can do to help

If you’re suffering with PND it can be hard to make decisions. Ask what you can do to help. Drill it down into two or three suggestions. Perhaps that could be, ‘Could I make a meal for you?’, ‘Could I look after the baby while you get some sleep?’, ‘Do you need a hug?’.

7. Encourage her to escape the four walls

mums and babies at a baby music class

When you have depression you often want to hide away from the world. We know, here at Happity, that loneliness and lack of connection can make PND worse. Encourage your partner to get out and about into the big wide world. Go with them if they are nervous. Start small. That might mean walking to the end of the street at first. You can build up to urging them to join a class. We have some amazingly supportive classes on Happity, designed specifically for mums suffering with PND. But any class can provide company and support.

8. Recovery from PND is a marathon, not a sprint

It’s often hard to know that you cannot easily and quickly fix things if someone you love has PND. The truth is there’s no quick fix. So have patience and be aware that it will take time. It does help to remind your partner that they will get better. And that you will stay by their side, however long it takes.

9. Supporting someone through PND: Look after yourself too

Supporting someone through PND (or any mental health condition) is hard. It can really be draining on your own resources. Look after yourself too. That might mean taking time to get a break. Talk to friends, find ways to go to a group or spend time doing something that lets you have a breather. You might need to make sure the one you’re supporting has someone else there to step into your breach.

Taking time out for yourself will mean you are better able to provide support. So make sure you get it.


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 or professional advice if you are worried about you, your partner’s or your baby’s health.


More you might like:

How to tell if it’s PND or the baby blues

16 things mums with PND wished you knew

The brutal truth of PND

There’s lots of information and advice out there about post natal depression. One of the things that’s harder to find is the honest and brutal truth about what it feels like when you suffer from PND. It’s a difficult thing to talk about. But doing so can make other mums feel less alone. And help us all understand it more.

We have pulled together some candid and honest words from mums about what it’s like to have PND. Many are from interviews and blogs that Emily, our co-founder and a mental health campaigner, put together for Mummy links, which was the app she ran before joining Happity.

Opening up about the hard stuff

Many of the words from mums are confronting and challenging. They tell the honest and brutal truth about how mums feel. The more we open up and really talk about PND, the more we can learn. And the more we can demand better support for new mums.

It’s important to know that, however hard it feels, you CAN and WILL recover.

It’s OK to not be OK

PND can happen to anyone and it is NOT your fault. But there’s still a lot of stigma attached to it Here’s what mums had to say:

  • “This is not how it was supposed to be or how I thought it would be and I felt like such a failure because of that”
  • “I wish more people understood that it can so come out in anger or anxiety. I’m not trying to be mean or annoying. I am actually just not feeling okay”
  • “I thought ‘Were social services going to take him away?'”
  • “The overwhelming fear for a mum may be “If someone thinks I can’t cope they’ll take my baby away” which can be more crippling than the shame”
  • “It is something that can happen to any parent – and can often be the one who looks like they’re coping and has it all together”
  • “When I was struggling the most, I made the biggest effort to look like I had it together”
  • “Masking is a very common way that women /mothers manage symptoms….so sad as it means feeling even lonelier and isolated”
  • “I felt like a failure for having it and that there was something wrong with me. Why wasn’t I over the moon at having my little rainbow baby and relishing in every moment spent with her? Instead I was feeling down and miserable all the time. I wish I would’ve known that it’s okay to feel like that, my suppressing it and ignoring it made it 100x times worse”
  • “Let’s normalise not being OK. And let’s normalise getting help. It’s time to stop making mums feel guilty for not coping”.
  • “We definitely need to talk about this more, as too many mothers blame themselves when it isn’t their fault”
speech bubbles on a blue background

The brutal truth about PND

The honest truth is that having PND can be very frightening. As a result, you can be taken to some dark places. You can feel desperate and broken. These most confronting brutal truths are the things we talk about least as they’re the very hardest things to say out loud.

In an interview with The Guardian, Emma Jane Unsworth, opened up about the brutal truth of PND, saying:

I am jumpy and twitchy, like a person on high alert. I want to shout and scream and lie down and curl into a ball and have someone – anyone – just take the baby for a few hours and give me time to regroup. I’m feeling like I am on the edge of a psychic fit; some uncontrollable outburst….I feel, for the first time in my life, like it would sometimes be easier to just be dead. (At least then I could sleep.)

The Guardian, Emma Jane Unsworth

Incredibly tough feelings to admit. And incredibly tough feelings to feel too.

It’s important to remember, when you have intrusive thoughts, that it’s the PND talking, not you.

Finding a safe and supportive space to talk about them is one of the most vital things for any new mum suffering. When you get help you will be able to stop feeling this way and start to feel more like you again.

The brutal truth: Saying the unsayable

Here are some of the things mums want to say about how they felt, which feel ‘unsayable’:

  • “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this”
  • “I’ve just wanted someone to take him away because I couldn’t do this”
  • “I’ve not felt how everyone said I would feel. I didn’t love him”
  • “I hate being a mum”
  • “At times, I regretted having him”

They say them so that anyone else feeling this way will feel less alone. And less ashamed. To recognise these feelings as symptoms of PND. And to know that they can get help so that they stop feeling like this and start recovering.

Voices of recovery

women holding up speech bubbles

One of the bravest and most important steps anyone suffering with PND can take is to reach out for help. Once you’ve taken that first step you can begin your road to recovery. It might not be a quick journey but you WILL get there in the end. And that’s really important to remember.

Here are what mums want you to know about recovery from PND:

  • “Support is paramount, it’s not a weakness to ask for help. It’s the bravest step”
  • “Having suffered so bad, I wish no one else ever would or is! The worst two years of my life.It’s so important for individuals to speak out and seek help.  There is light at the end of the tunnel”
  • “It takes time. And lots of strength. You can also take one step forward and then two steps back. But keep going because you can do it”
  • “(In recovery) every day/week you begin to feel a bit more like you and more able to enjoy being a mum”
  • “The journey out of it was long and hard but I’m so glad I kept going. YOU can do it too”

To find out how to take that first step and reach out for help head to our PND page

More about PND

16 things mums with PND wish you knew

How to tell if it’s PND or baby blues

My PND recovery: Talking, tea and tambourines

I keep hearing a phrase pop up time and time again from male friends, colleagues and just in general – I’m on babysitting duties tonight, so I can’t do X or Y.

Dads are not babysitters! Are they? In this month’s Diary of a First Time Dad, Stu has a few things to get off his chest! His cathartic musings lead to some dad blunders to avoid…


Getting a few things off my chest

One of the most fascinating things about people is the huge number of things which can set our teeth on edge, grind our gears or generally rub us up the wrong way. My despairing partner, and indeed my parents, would doubtless reel off a long list of the trivial things which can ruin my day.

Whether it is something stacking the dishwasher randomly (though I’d strongly argue solid dishwasher loading skills are one of the defining features of a civilised society), people not saying thank you when you let them pass in a corridor, a bag on a seat of a packed train along with many more far too numerous to list, there are many, many things which can grate me far beyond their real worth. People have recommended I try breathing exercises, but it also makes me angry when people breathe loudly, so that’s hardly going to help.

Really unique – there’s no such thing

So, in summary, there’s probably a fair argument that I’m not always the poster child for mindfulness. It gets worse. As somebody who studied literature, albeit so long ago that most classics authors were probably still alive, I’ve been cursed with an irrational fear of misused words; malapropisms. It’s all fun and games when Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses mangles languages, but I come out in hives when someone asks for an eXpresso (there is no X in eSpresso) or, even worse, says something is ‘really unique’. Something is, after all, either unique or not….

Dads are not babysitters!

Why am I unburdening myself with this? On a blog about being a new Dad? Apart from it being cathartic (thanks for listening!), it’s because I keep hearing a phrase pop up time and time again from male friends, colleagues and just in general – I’m on babysitting duties tonight, so I can’t do X or Y.

Babysitting. Your own child or children. Not parenting, but babysitting.

Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? I can’t say hand on heart that it enrages me, but it does stick out and seem out of place, which got me to thinking about some other classic missteps of dads – some mine, some more general – to go along with the babysitting.

dad playing with baby

I’m sure a lot of mums reading this will raise a smile or a knowing eyebrow about how us dads have a bit of a tendency to pop in, do a fairly simple task and then expect if not awards then at the very least praise lasting for days or weeks. I’ll hold my hands up as being as guilty of this as any man, though for me it is less about parenting than DIY. Any small household task completed and I’ll be doing victory laps of the house for days to come! So what are some of the other traps dads can fall into, by accident or design?

Dad traps to avoid

NEVER complain about being tired. Just don’t do it. Rule number one. You may think you’re tired. You may actually be utterly exhausted. But in the majority of cases, it’s often the mum doing the majority of the chasing around and feeding. Before I can hear the angry tapping of keys, I know this isn’t the case for everyone and every family set up, but there is a broad truth here. If you’re a dad who is the primary carer of your child or children, we’d love to hear your story for our This is Family series.

The Mickey Flanagan paradox. There’s a very funny sketch by Mickey Flanagan talking about how he’s promised his partner he’ll be home on time with a takeaway but gets waylaid in the pub with his friends and fondly, deludely imagines his partner at home, devoid of food, happily thinking ‘I bet he’s having a lovely time. I’ll make myself a sandwich. I’ll make him one too in case he’s hungry later’. Particularly with younger children (and I’m speaking from current experience here), entertaining them for a whole day without help can be exhausting as it is joyful. So if you say you’re going to be home at 6, then expect a frosty reception if you wander in at 7. In fact, 6.03 is playing with fire. Mum needs a break. Mum needs to pee. Mum needs to wash the chewed rice cake out of her hair. If you’re going to be late, make sure the reason is really, really good.

A little learning is a dangerous thing. Yeah, even that quote is usually mangled. It’s not a little knowledge, but learning. I’m a riot at parties, as you can tell! Here’s why it can be dangerous in the parenting context. Being really involved with the whole pregnancy is wonderful and laudable. Learning what your partner is going through at each stage is admirable. Reading all the books you can on feeding, sleeping and everything else to be a support? Superb. But… stay in your lane. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen dads wade in and start explaining breastfeeding and pregnancy to women, without a shred of expertise – just access to Google and a head full of opinions. Don’t be that guy. Don’t even be friends with that guy.

dad playing with baby

Be a dad, not a babysitter

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, as dads, we’re all going to get it wrong a lot of the time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. None of us are perfect. But the ones above are less about trying and not getting it right, but maybe not being empathetic enough to the mothers of our children. 

So for all the babysitters out there, this year’s mission is to be the best ally to the mother of your children you can be; be a dad not a babysitter. That doesn’t mean every can or wants to take on primary care roles. All family set-ups are different and we celebrate all of them. But, if you’re there and the little one is making straining noises, be the first to jump up and change their bum. Do the bits you can, when you can, without being asked – and enjoy doing them. Trust me, doing the right thing is also the most fun thing you’ll ever do.

Happity wants your parenting stories!

As always, we’d love to hear your parenting stories and musings too. If you’ve got a story to tell then get in touch.


More from the Diary of a first time dad:

Baby’s first teeth: Reality Bites – and bites hard!

Diary of a first time dad: Milestones or millstones

Diary of a first time dad: A picturesque delivery

Last October (2021) the Petitions Committee published a report called: ‘Impact of Covid-19 on new parents: One Year On’. It outlined the additional pressures new parents faced during the pandemic and called for strengthened perinatal mental health services, a return of face-to-face visits for new parents and a review into the funding and affordability of childcare. The government has now issued a formal response to the issues highlighted in this report.

The closure of baby & toddler classes

When baby and toddler classes were forced to run online during lockdowns they provided vital support for new parents. But we all missed being able to meet up face to face and it was a lonely time. When lockdown restrictions were lifted the guidance for when and how groups and classes could return face to face was often confusing. Providers were desperate to restart their classes. Parents couldn’t wait to join the classes and find company and friendship. The new report recognises the importance of classes and groups for new parents:

The Government understands the importance of community support groups and parent and child groups and will continue to review the need for guidance for specific groups on operating in a Covid-safe way on a case-by-case basis.

In recognition of the support needed by parents with young children, during the November 2020 national restrictions, the government introduced a gatherings exception for new parents, and excluded under-fives. When national restrictions ended on 2 December 2020, a new exception for parent and child groups was introduced.

The Department for Education continues to update guidance for parent and child groups in Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak—GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). This guidance is for Ofsted registered early years and childcare settings and while some providers will meet in Ofsted registered settings, not all will, and there is no single responsible body with complete oversight of these groups. Parent and child groups are a cross-government policy with different departments having an interest

Impact of Covid-19 on new parents: one year on: Government Response to the Committee’s First Report

Thankfully all lockdown restrictions have now been lifted in England. By the end of March it is expected that remaining restrictions will be lifted in the rest of the UK too. Safety measures, such as wearing face-coverings and isolating if you have Covid will no longer be mandatory, but down to the individual choice, as we all learn to live with Covid-19.

We’re all so glad that baby & toddler classes are back. Even though the road was a long (and often frustrating one) to get here!

More support for new parents

The initial report looked in detail at the impact the pandemic had on new parents. It recommended that the government should produce a covid-19 recovery strategy to support new parents. While such a report will not be written, the government has set out a package of support for babies and families, which was announced in the Budget on the 27th October, 2021. This package of measures includes:

£100 million for bespoke mental health support for new and expectant parents, £82 million to expand the network of Family Hubs to a further 75 Local Authorities across England, and £10 million for Local Authorities to trial and test new and innovative recruitment models to train up more staff. Nursery staff will also have access to more high-quality training funded by a separate £153 million investment announced as part of the £1.4 billion education recovery package in Summer 2021.

Impact of Covid-19 on new parents: one year on: Government Response to the Committee’s First Report

They also highlighted the fact that:

GPs are required to offer a 6–8 week maternal postnatal health check for new mothers as an additional appointment to that for the baby. This should include a review of the mother’s mental health and wellbeing, in line with NICE guidance.

The impact will continue to be felt by parents

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, is concerned that the impact on parents from the pandemic will continue to be felt, despite these plans for support. She says:

Although most restrictions have now been lifted, the pandemic’s impact will continue to be felt for years to come. Especially by new parents, for whom help was cut off when they most needed it. “The investment in family services in last Autumn’s Spending Review was welcome. But the Government’s failure to provide new catch-up funding for health visiting and parental mental health leaves new parents facing an accumulation of adversity without the support they deserve.

The Government’s failure to make progress on stronger employment protections for new mothers, which it promised in its response to our previous report, is particularly troubling. Its continued refusal to extend parental leave and pay entitlements to all new parents and guardians is equally concerning.

This response is all the more disappointing as it is the second time the Government has turned a blind eye to the impacts we have highlighted. This continued lack of action means new parents’ needs will continue to go unrecognised and unmet, with long-term consequences for their wellbeing and their babies’ health and development.

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP

You can read the government’s response to the report in full in the First Special Report of Session 2021–22.

More you might like:

The impact of Covid-19 on new parents: One year on

Share your story: This is family

Baby & toddler classes: Why they’re important for new parents

What’s the difference between baby blues and PND (Postnatal Depression)?

Most mums will have heard the term ‘baby blues’. It’s a stage that up to 80% of mothers go through. But at what point does the baby blues period end? And at what point should mums start to question if it’s PND?

We’ve done some research into what to keep an eye out for if you start to grow concerned. We urge anyone who believes they are struggling with PND to contact a professional or to reach out to a loved one, as they are the ones who will be able to help you through this situation.

What are the baby blues?

Giving birth and welcoming a new baby into the world is supposed to be such a happy event. But in the first few days after birth many new mums feel low in mood, emotional and anxious.

Mums experiencing baby blues might experience:

  • feeling emotional and bursting into tears for no apparent reason
  • feeling irritable or touchy
  • low mood
  • anxiety and restlessness

All these symptoms are normal and usually only last for a few days. (Source: NHS)

What causes baby blues? After your body has gone through birth your hormones levels drop pretty drastically. According to NCT, your oestrogen levels actually drop more than 100 fold in the first three days after your baby is born.

That chemical decrease as well as the stress of taking your new-born baby home for the first time can be a time of experiencing your most heightened amount of emotions.

What is PND?

Postnatal Depression affects about 1 in every 10 parents, and can occur 2-8 weeks after birth or even up to a year later. Unlike the baby blues, which go away after a few days, symptoms of PND linger. If you feel down or anxious or just not like yourself and it is something that doesn’t go away then it could be PND.

Some of the symptoms of PND can include a persistent low mood, trouble sleeping, withdrawing from other people, and intrusive thoughts. These don’t necessarily occur all at once, but rather tend to develop gradually over time.

The NHS have provided a useful overview of the symptoms of PND:

Emotional signs of postnatal depression may include: 

  • loss of interest in the baby
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • not being able to stop crying
  • feelings of not being able to cope
  • not being able to enjoy anything
  • memory loss or being unable to concentrate
  • excessive anxiety about the baby

Other signs of postnatal depression may also include:

  • panic attacks
  • sleeplessness
  • extreme tiredness
  • aches and pains
  • feeling generally unwell
  • anxiety
  • loss of appetite (Source: NHS)

How to tell the difference between PND and baby blues?

PND and baby blues both can leave you feeling run down, emotional, irritable or anxious.

Baby blues, however, will pass within 10 to 14 days after giving birth. As your body begins to recover and your hormone levels return back to normal you should start to feel better and your mood should begin to return back to normal.

PND, on the other hand, doesn’t have a set time period and you don’t necessarily “just get over it”. It can last for months, and can become a long-term problem if left untreated. It’s a myth that PND is only hormonal based. It has a lot of different contributors. PND can also affect 1 in 10 fathers, which indicates fairly clearly that it’s not just a hormonal-based illness.

If you feel persistently low, irritable, struggle to sleep and yet have a lack of energy, and have other symptoms listed here, then you should consider seeking out help.

Is it PND or Baby Blues? Mother kisses her baby on his forehead.

Where to seek help

PND and baby blues both are difficult to go through. They can be scary to experience at times, and the rose-coloured glasses we wore when approaching parenthood can start to slip when we experience them. For all the love and care we hold for our children, baby blues and PND are unfortunately something out of our control.

However, one of the best things you can do to help pull yourself through it is to reach out and talk about it with your support system (your family, friends, or midwife). The best first step is to start a conversation about it. And to seek help and support.

We have a PND Support page with useful resources for you to look through including charities like PANDAS and APNI, and we strongly recommend you to contact your GP and tell them about how you are feeling. If you start to experience suicidal thoughts, or have frightening thoughts about hurting your baby, then contact 111. And if you think that there’s a danger of you putting yourself or a loved one in danger, contact 999 immediately.

Remember: you don’t need to suffer alone through this. There are people, charities, and loved ones who are willing to listen and help. There is a way out. And you will get better.

Stay safe, and please reach out.


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, your partner’s or your baby’s health.


Read more from our blog:

16 things mums wish you knew about PND

Where are our mental health checks for new mums?

Loneliness as a new mum: one mum’s story

It’s 3am. You’ve been cluster feeding for what feels like an eternity. But, somehow, this tiny limpet with a stomach the size of a cherry is hungry AGAIN!

Anita Casu

Anita Casu shares with us her experience raising a baby who simply wouldn’t sleep at night. Read on to find out how she overcame/is overcoming the challenges she has faced during the first 10 months of motherhood.


In the last photo taken of me before I gave birth, I’m standing in a corner of the nursery cradling a (clearly quite stubborn) 42 week bump. Tell-tale circles under my eyes betray another night punctuated by hourly bathroom trips. No one ever warns you about the joys of third trimester bladder trampoline.

Aside from predictable forays into sourdough, a lockdown pregnancy had also afforded us plenty of time for DIY. Every weekend, my husband and I joined the throngs outside our local Homebase, committed to the cause of home improvement. (Or perhaps, unenthused by the prospect of another government-mandated walk)

My backdrop in the photo is a sunshine-yellow feature wall with a picture of a fox frolicking in snow. Draped across the wall is a felt garland, along with a trendy knitted name sign and various fox-themed items confirming an unhealthy addiction to Etsy. You’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth this all has to do with sleep. Well, in the centre of the nursery – of course – is a cot. Because that’s what babies sleep in, right?

Just not mine.

Would it surprise you to know I could probably count on one hand the number of times my baby graced the cot with her presence?

When thinking about my journey with baby sleep, I couldn’t help but think of Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief:

Anita's baby sleeping soundly

First Stage: Denial

“Enjoy your sleep now!” Those well-intentioned friends warn you. “You’ll never sleep again!”

You nod politely. It’s easier than replying, “Actually Susan, I had 9lbs of baby using my bladder as a stage for Irish dancing last night.” You’ve got restless legs, heartburn, hip pain and even the pregnancy pillow you’ve fondly nicknamed “The Giant Tooth” isn’t enough to make you feel comfortable. So you’re well primed for the sleepless nights in store. It’ll be fiiiine.

Second Stage: Anger

It’s 3am. You’ve been cluster feeding for what feels like an eternity but somehow, this tiny limpet with a stomach the size of a cherry is hungry AGAIN. How is it that you can switch the vacuum cleaner on during the day and your baby nods off in nanoseconds but at night they JUST… WON’T… SLEEP?

Third Stage: Bargaining

You’ve never been religious. Agnostic at best. But having spent the night repeatedly trying to lower your baby into the glorified bedside table that is their crib, you’ll try anything. You buy a different crib, try a thicker mattress and pray to any passing deity that might hear your nocturnal ramblings.

Fourth Stage: Depression

By this point, you’re struggling to form sentences. Your brain feels like plasticine, your signature scent is sour milk and to say you resemble a scarecrow is putting it lightly. Perhaps the nights were getting better but with each stage of growth comes an explosion of development that interferes with any progress made. Hello, split nights and 4am parties.

You realise that something has to change for the sake of your sanity.

Final Stage: Acceptance

At this point, I realised I was fighting a losing battle and whatever I had been trying wasn’t going to work, no matter how hard I tried. It was around this time I stumbled across the Instagram page of Lyndsey Hookway: pioneer of the Holistic Sleep Coaching Programme (and many other impressive qualifications besides). I read her book ‘Let’s Talk About Your New Family’s Sleep’ and found it immensely reassuring. There *was* a middle-ground between sleep training (which, with absolutely zero judgment, isn’t for me) and just waiting it out for the situation to improve. The idea of looking at sleep holistically really appealed. Rather than following generic advice, everything from birth to diet and temperament is taken into consideration. Babies aren’t robots, after all.

Anita's baby sleeping well on a walk through the outdoors

Rather than scheduling my day around a strict set of awake windows and tracking the minutiae of my baby’s sleep on Huckleberry (uninstalling that app was the best thing I’ve ever done), I surrendered to the fact that sleep was never going to be linear. Some days would be better than others, when teething, illness or peaks in separation anxiety might scupper my plans.

But did the world end when she skipped a nap or became overtired? Of course it didn’t! Instead, I accepted the things I could control and let go of those I couldn’t. I knew my baby loved to nap in the pram so instead of forcing naps at home, I’d wait until she was really tired, wrap up warm and stroll around the park listening to a podcast. I was moving my body and both of us were getting fresh air.

Sleep Involves A Bit Of Trial And Error

The other game-changer in our sleep journey so far has been embracing the Montessori method of a floor bed. Developed as a way of promoting independence and free movement, the floor bed is also a wonderful way of supporting a baby or child to sleep before rolling away (ensuring they are over 6 months old, the room is fully baby-proofed and you have followed age-appropriate safe sleeping advice).

Having co-slept from day one, this felt like a logical progression. So at 8 months, we sold that lovely yellow cot and put a double mattress on the floor of her nursery. As usual, I’d breastfeed to sleep then ‘ninja-roll’ away to read, watch some Netflix or just decompress. At first, the false starts were almost immediate. But I persisted and with time, she just started sleeping for longer stretches on her own. I’d anxiously watch the monitor, waiting for the inevitable wake-up but soon that 20 minutes turned into several hours.

All those nights spent feeding, cuddling and shushing my baby to sleep had finally paid off and she felt comfortable enough to sleep solo.

Where Are We With Sleep Now?

At the time of writing this, my baby is 10 and a bit months old. She’s teething, on her third cold and on top of all that, trying so hard to walk. It’s little wonder, therefore, that there’s been an increased need for support at night. As I said, sleep is never linear; when you think you’ve cracked it, something comes along to test you. The wonderful thing about a floor bed, however, is that rather than being up and down like a yo-yo, I can just go to sleep if she needs me close by and maximise my own rest. No tricky transfer required.

With a return to work on the horizon, I’m fully aware there’ll be other challenges in store but that’s ok. Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I could give a new parent with regards to sleep is to drown out the noise and trust your own instinct. Only you know your baby’s temperament, family set-up and unique set of circumstances.

Anita and her baby (sleep finally at work!)

If a rigidly-structured day helps you to feel in control, that’s fine! However, so much generic advice is bandied about as the gospel truth and the result is that it can make you feel like a failure. It’s seen as kooky to share a sleep space with your baby when really, it’s the most natural thing in the world and the norm in several cultures.

Some babies sleep through the night in their cot but I want other parents to know they’re not failing if their baby doesn’t. They’re not failing if their baby is one of the 80% of 6-18 month olds who wake through the night. They’re not failing if their baby doesn’t do a long lunchtime nap but instead prefers to nod off in a sling or the pram in the park. Their baby is just… behaving like a baby.

Sleep Is No Picnic

I won’t pretend it’s always been easy. Sleep (or the lack thereof), has certainly been a cause of stress in this first year of motherhood. But learning to follow my baby’s unique cues and accepting there’d be times she’d need me more than others has made all the difference. The days are so fleeting. In a matter of weeks, I’ll have a one year old. I’m never going to look back on this time and regret all the contact naps, cuddles and nights spent sleeping next to her. It feels right for us and it won’t be forever. For now, I’m soaking it all up while it lasts.

The Lullaby Trust is an invaluable resource for all things related to safer sleep. 

I also highly recommend the lovely Charlotte Inskip, a Holistic Sleep Coach who can be found over at @theholisticsleepmama on Instagram. 

Would You Like To Share Your Story Too?

Has Anita’s story inspired you to share your own? We want to hear as many different stories from as many different families as we can. Because, sharing your own challenges and triumphs, helps other families feel less alone and more supported. Want to get involved and share your family story too? Find out how here


More From This Is Family:

Matteo Arrived Early

When Breastfeeding Is Hard