Posted on: 6 May 2021

CNWL has been speaking with women who have used our perinatal services to help promote Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

This is a week-long campaign running from 3 to 9 May dedicated to talking about mental illness during pregnancy or after having a baby and signposting to support for all mums.

One of these is Laura who was initially diagnosed with postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety and then latterly PTSD and OCD following the difficult birth of her son Jack.

Laura has given us permission to run her interview in full.

This is her story of how she came to be referred to the Milton Keynes Perinatal Mental Health Service.

You can play the audio here or read her transcript below…

“I didn't have the easiest of pregnancies and I was induced at

39 weeks because of the size of the baby.

So I went into hospital to be induced.

I had an allergic reaction to the second pessary and

unfortunately I then ended up in an awful lot of pain.

The allergic reaction to the pessary slowed down

the process. Ended up having to have an epidural.

By the time our baby, who is Jack, by the time he

was born it was about a 65/67 hour process.

He did get stuck towards the end of my labour, so I had to have an

episiotomy and unfortunately I suffered quite significant blood loss

as a result of being cut. I struggled

immensely. Once I had given birth I was exhausted.

I had suffered severe sleep, sleep deprivation and had

had a couple of hours sleep in about a 72 hour window.

So was extremely exhausted and tired, especially after the long

labour. Due to my severe exhaustion.

I felt quite unable to care for Jack during his first couple of days and when we were still

on the post labour ward. Day two of being on the post labour

ward, I unfortunately had an infection so

had to be hooked up to antibiotics, which again that hindered then my ability

to physically care for Jack.

We ended up being discharged very late day three after Jack

was born.

And I can clearly remember the memory of walking through the front

door with Jack and just staring at my husband, carrying him in the car

seat and thinking, who is this baby and

am I meant to now look after him and it just didn't feel real

at all! I developed extreme

fear of falling asleep, even though by this point I was utterly

exhausted and had been up pretty much for 4-5 days solid.

I had intrusive thoughts over if I fell asleep that I would die

or if I fell asleep, Jack would die, and it would be my fault.

I felt that I had zero attachment to Jack.

I didn't feel that I had any kind of bond with him at all.

I can remember looking at him and especially in that first week or

so, and thinking, what on earth have I done?

This is the biggest mistake of my life.

And I felt like my life was over and it just didn't feel real that

this baby was mine.

I didn't feel like I'd look at him and I felt like he was my baby.

And you know, my husband and I had tried for so long to fall pregnant.

We were in such a happy place in our life and our marriage, and suddenly this

baby come along and everything was ruined.

My husband took the first two weeks of Jack's life off as paternity

leave from work and I did find during that that sort of two week window

that I was almost able to once I had physically felt a bit better

and had caught up on a little bit of sleep that

I could put on a brave face.

So I felt like I was making all of the right noises and

saying all the right things when people were coming over to visit and I was

trying my best to hold this baby that I didn't feel the attachment to.

But I was trying to hold him as if to show what a great first time mum I am

and look how attentive I am.

And when the visitors left or if Ian left the room and it was just me and


yeah, it was just me and Jack.

I remember looking at him thinking, "You hate me".

And I felt at the time that I hated him.

I felt like everyone else could comfort Jack apart from me and I was just


I was failing at being a wife and failing as being a mum.

Ian went back to work after two weeks and

I feel that that was the real sort of pinnacle point in

terms of things deteriorating.

I hated every morning when Jack would wake

up and I would have to hold him and feed him.

I hated being isolated in the house all day long.

I didn't particularly want to hold Jack.

I felt like he knew that I was failing as a mum

and therefore he didn't love me and I didn't love him.

And at this point I was developing quite strong OCD behaviour

and the intrusive thoughts were, were really sort of plaguing

my mind for the whole of the day.

I used to feel sheer relief when my husband would get home from work so I could

hand Jack to him and I could then run away and be by myself.

And it was a real, a real hard time.

And it's still quite hard to look back on it now because it I've gone such a long

way throughout this process of my recovery.

And it's still, I feel sad for myself for the person that I was

back then and how unwell I was. Jack was about five weeks old when my

lovely health visitor Jane come around for a bit of a routine

appointment and I felt like it, it was getting to the point that

I knew something really wasn't right, but I hadn't vocalised anything to my

husband or my family or my friends and Jane sat down in my living room and she said,

"And how are you?"

And I remember feeling that, you know, I felt like the wind had been taken

out of me.

It was the first time in about five weeks that somebody had asked me how I

was and I wanted to lie and say I was fine.

But I kind of knew that I really wasn't, wasn't

well and I ended up just offloading everything on poor

Jane, bless her.

And we spoke about how I've been feeling, what's been happening, the thoughts

that I'm thinking about constantly and she was amazing

and she reacted immediately.

She left my house and said she was going to seek some further

support for me.

Within an hour of her leaving she had called me back and she said that she had

referred me to the Perinatal Mental Health Team at Milton Keynes Hospital.

She said that they will look at some care for me and some support,

but just to be open and honest with them. Someone from the team at the

hospital called me and we just ran through some basic sort of questions and

then I think it was in about within about three days.

I had a face to face appointment with a woman in the team and

we went through everything even from things from like my childhood,

all the way up to conception.

And then obviously we spent a lot of time talking about my labour and also then

the time afterwards. It was then decided that yes, I

was suffering from postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety

and I was then put in touch with a therapist who I had weekly appointments with.

And we started the process of CBT therapy alongside


I had that type of therapy for about four or five months and then I

was transferred to a different therapist and

I then was diagnosed with PTSD and

OCD and then we started a sort of a different treatment course.

So I've had EMDR Therapy.

I've also had my medication changed in a number of times and I

am well on the road to recovery now, which is good.

Where would you be now, had you not sought that help?

I would be very fearful of what quality of life

myself, my husband and my son would be having if I hadn't have received

such fantastic help,

support, guidance from the perinatal team at the hospital

and my husband and I always refer to my therapist who

is Emma Cross, we call her my guardian angel.

because without Emma and her support and her

help, I think my life would have stayed

almost definitely in that very dark rut.

What would your message be to a mum who's going through the same thing as you went through?

You're not alone.

I know when I was extremely poorly, I felt that I

was utterly alone in this very dark world and nobody

could even comprehend how I was feeling or what was going on.

But you're not alone and the help and the resources that are available to

us mums is just incredible

and I would urge anyone that's feeling like they're

failing or they're struggling or they just don't feel quite right to seek

support and seek help because the world is an awesome

place and when you are suffering from mental health illnesses,

it just feels a very dark world and you know, there's help and support out

there that can help you to get back to where you were and to start enjoying life again.”

CNWL also runs perinatal mental health services in Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, or Westminster.