Pregnancy, labour and motherhood are experiences like no other. Nothing could have prepared me for how truly life-changing each would be.

The realisation of the huge responsibility I have as a mother sometimes overwhelms me. I have good days and bad days. Nevertheless, even when I am exhausted, or when I look at my crumb-covered, toy-filled, littered-with-dribble-bibs house, I do not hark back to the happy, pre-baby days.

I longed to have a child but trying for a baby can be just that -very trying. With each passing month I wondered more and more if my dream of being a parent would be no more than just that -a dream.

I have leaned on my family and friends for support more than ever. Trying for a baby and it not happening really took its toll on how I felt about myself, and after a particularly blue week I did make an appointment to see a  doctor who gave me some options– medication, CBT, a holiday. So, my husband and I stopped ‘trying’ and decided that the best option was to blow a chunk of our baby savings on another dream -a trip of a lifetime to New York. The cliché continues and on the day of our return I did a test and it was positive. I did have some CBT and mindfulness therapy which just reinforced what I already knew: my thoughts and reactions were my own and I could control them… with a little bit of mindfulness.

I loved being pregnant. Labour was painful but my husband and mum were there and I am the proud mother of a beautiful seven-month-old little girl.

I definitely suffered the baby blues though: motherhood IS utterly overwhelming and NOTHING could have prepared me for it – the love, the fear, the motherly instinct that takes over everything… for a while. I seek support every day and I realised very early on that a parenting problem shared is a problem halved. I first went to BABY CAFÉ, a breastfeeding support group held at Gipton Methodist Church, when my daughter was three weeks old, the day my husband went back to work after paternity leave. I was terrified of being on my own. Seven months on I still go every Friday. We are each other’s therapists and we are in touch all day and all night if need be! They have given me the strength, confidence and cake that every new mum needs to raise a happy, healthy child.

The company of someone who knows exactly what you are going through just makes you believe that everything will be OK

Rebecca

I did experience stigma during my pregnancy, first of all from myself. I was so very hard on myself. Having suffered from anxiety and depression in the past, I even put off trying for a baby because I deemed myself incapable of being a good mother. How could I look after another human being if I myself sometimes found a relatively normal day difficult?

The second instance in which I felt stigmatised was at a number of my midwife appointments. I left my first appointment feeling that admitting to smoking 20 a day may have attracted less eyebrow twitching than admitting to having suffered anxiety and depression in the past.  I told myself it was right that the issue be ‘highlighted’. After all, women across the nation were suffering post-natal depression in silence and it made sense that I could be prone to it. I explained that I had received the very important message loud and clear and that if I felt at all down I would seek help. But, I wasn’t prepared to let this one ‘issue’ cloud every moment of what was actually (after labour) the most wonderful thing I had ever experienced.

My advice to others… in my opinion, new mums need someone to talk to. They need someone to listen to them because being a mum means your needs come second or third or even fourth! I was really anti baby group – I could think of nothing worse than a group of women sat around talking about boobs and how tired they were but it is all I need. For me, the company of someone who knows exactly what you are going through just makes you believe that everything will be OK and I know my new mum friends would absolutely agree.