Don’t forget about perinatal mental health during Covid

Clare Walsby

I remember it distinctly.

The moment I realised that this, probably, was not normal behaviour.

I was sitting on a park bench near my house, crying, and had been for a while.  My baby daughter sat in a buggy next to me, gloriously oblivious.  If you asked me what I was crying about, I probably couldn’t tell you.  But I’m pretty sure it revolved around no sleep, high anxiety around my baby’s eating habits and the general feeling that I was a pretty shit mother.

Luckily for me, help came in the form of a university friend who had been wonderfully open about her own postnatal depression experiences.  Despite not speaking to her for a couple of years, I sent her a message.  Little did I know that doing that with a fellow PND sufferer is like flashing the Bat signal.  By the evening she was on the phone, listening to me sob and suggesting that I seek help.  Which I did.

Fast forward four years to 2020 and here we are, in lockdown, and I am fearful for all the new and potential mothers out there.  Children’s centres, libraries and soft plays are essential meeting places for new mums who don’t have friends or family nearby, and who want to meet others locally to share the trials and joys of being a new parent.  My local Children’s Centre Breastfeeding group was a lifeline for me, where I met some wonderful people who understood what it was like and didn’t think I was mad (or a terrible mother).  Peer support is vital to show you that you are not alone, and without it there is no telling where I would be right now.

This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.  In the time of Covid, where so much human contact and support is denied us, it has never been more important to remember those who may slip through the cracks while we focus on the most immediate problem. 

So please, if you have a friend who is pregnant or has a new baby, give them a call. Ask how they are, really. If you’re feeling the strain yourself, reach out. I was so glad I did.

McPin’s work with MumsAid and the principles of perinatal peer support with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance might be of interest.

The Alliance has some really useful information about how to look after yourself during this time. Please do share it with all the new parents you know. 

Clare Walsby is the Operations Manager at McPin.