Updated: Jan 9
This week 3rd-9th of May marks UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. Despite being in 2021, there is still stigma about the notion of talking about mental health and even more at the prospect of asking for support. Before being a Baby, Child and Family Photographer, I was a Family Support Worker where I supported pregnant women and new mum's so I have seen first hand the full range of emotions you can experience during this time. So I am writing this Blog to reassure you that its ok to ask for help and there are some wonderful organisations out there which specialise in offering support on maternal and postnatal mental health.
It's important to note that mental health can effect anyone at any time. It is nothing to be ashamed of, both Mums and Dads can experience difficulties. It does not mean that for one moment that you cannot be a wonderful parent, sometimes we just need some extra help. The hardest step to take is asking for help, but as soon as you seek support it will help you to get the most out of being parent. Sometimes it is easier to speak to a stranger, than a family member as there can be a fear of judgement or a lack of understanding of what you are feeling.
There are some common feelings and experiences which parents to be and new parents can encounter:
-Having a low mood
-Feeling close to tears
-Being irritable or angry
-Interrupted sleep patterns
-Lack of appetite
-Lack of enjoyment
-Struggling to cope with life
-Worries about parenting
-Worries about baby's health and safety
Having any of these above difficulties could be a sign that you need some support, remember it's ok to not be ok. The good news is that there are so many different support services out there providing free advice and guidance. Some of these services you can also directly self-refer yourself too, without having to see your Doctor, this includes the Wellbeing Service, who cover both Norfolk and Suffolk.
Sources of help and support on mental health
Self Help at Home to improve Mental Health
There are some self care steps you can take yourself to improve your mental health.
Keep active-find something active to do that you enjoy-there are lots of free online exercise classes which can help aid relaxation such as yoga.
Get out of the house-take your baby outside with you, getting out for a walk in the fresh air can help to boost your mood.
Make time for relaxation-even though you might be at home all the time does not mean that you are relaxing, try to do one thing per day for yourself which helps you to relax e.g. take a bath or read a few chapters in a book.
Go to face to face baby groups to meet other parents-as lockdown starts to ease more groups will open again, this is a great way to build up your own support network of other parents who will be having the same experiences as you. In Norfolk there is the Early Childhood and Family Service which offer support and provide face to face groups in the community, once lockdown is over. They are currently running online groups as well. You can find out more about what is available in your local area here. In Suffolk there are Health and Children's Centres again which run groups and offer support to parents, you can find out more here. Also there is the wonderful organisation Get Me Out The Four Walls which provides social meet ups, peer support and online support for parents in both Norfolk and Suffolk head over here to find out more.
Access Online Support Groups and Networks-there are so many online support groups out there for new parents, its a great place to share experiences, as it's likely that others are facing the same situation or have been in this position. Norwich Mumbler can signpost you to the different online support groups available. Also Get Me Out The Four Walls has different online groups for Norfolk and Suffolk, head over here to gain access.
Everyone is on their own personal journey, but sometimes the support of others is needed to help us get through the storm.
Written by G.Hampton 01/05/21
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