Yoga for Post-partum Depression

After speaking to the Ealing Perinatal team who recommended I try mother and baby yoga. I had tried it once before with Alfie but had found it rather boring; the teacher demonstrated all the poses whilst I copied, and Alfie was left to his own devices, rolling around on the floor. I didn’t particularly warm to the teacher and I didn’t find it beneficial, so was sceptical of trying again. However, my friend had been going to Lulu Winfield’s yoga at Lumi in Hammersmith with her son and loved it, so I thought that I should at least try this particular class.

I was incredibly anxious during the week before the class, which is quite normal for me! Many times I made excuses to to go, whilst inside I was worrying that Mollie would cry non-stop during the class or that somehow I wouldn’t be able to cope. I was anxious about being anxious! Yet I got Mollie ready on the morning of the class and decided to go. It took us about an hour to leave the house, despite my husband taking Alfie out that morning. I’m not even sure why it took us so long!

 

 

At the start of the class, Lulu introduced herself and was incredibly warm and welcoming. I explained how I was feeling and she was very understanding. With Mollie in the sling at the start of the class, she was content. However, a few minutes into class, she woke up to feed. After feeding, that was it-a lot of crying with me trying to calm her outside the class. Luckily, Lulu came out and offered to hold Mollie whilst I at least did the last ten minutes of the class; she held someone’s baby most of the class if they needed to be held, which was so considerate! Immediately, Mollie stopped crying and I was free to do some stretches. Had Lulu not helped, I am certain that I would have left the class; I had felt so low and useless, even though there were other babies there who were restless and crying.

It was great to be able to get even a few minutes to relax. It has been months since I have meditated and am so proud of us for going to the class. I would recommend new parents to at least try such a class, and if you can get to one of Lulu’s classes, even better!

Coping with Postnatal Depression

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Depression seems to me to be such a taboo subject. I suffered from this (mostly without realising that I was ill) throughout my teens up until the present day. I remember trying to speak to my tutors at university about my unexplainable feelings of sadness, and then to a uni counsellor, both of whom told me, ‘don’t worry, you haven’t got much longer to go until you graduate’. Because of their response, I continued plodding along with this sense of despair until my late twenties when I moved to London. My anxiety had gotten so bad that I couldn’t leave the house. This is when my GP referred me to a counselling service called Mind. With CBT, I slowly felt more myself, but not without dredging up things from the past which may have contributed to my low mood.

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At the height of post-natal depression, yet all smiles!

A year later I fell pregnant with my first baby and was referred to the perinatal service, but didn’t click with the doctor, so discontinued treatment. Eventually, after non-stop crying with the birth of my son (both him and me!) my GP prescribed me with anti-depressants. Although I had the prescription, I was too scared to take them. What if I became numb? What if I couldn’t love my baby? What if, what if…..

I would try to talk to other new mum’s about how I was feeling, but they all said that, even though they were tired, they loved being a mum. What was wrong with me?

 

Then one day, when I was feeling particularly desperate and didn’t know where to turn, I took my first pill. It felt as though I was finally helping myself, and I felt relief. Weeks later, I actually started to feel like myself-it’s as if I had forgotten what ‘myself’ was. I was now able to focus more on positives, such as my son smiling, or the sun shining.

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Fast forward two years and I have just had my daughter who is now 5 weeks. And guess what? Post-natal depression rears it’s ugly head again. It became so bad that I couldn’t be in the same room as my daughter, through no fault of her own. Because of this, my mum looked after her for two nights. Some may say that this was cruel to separate myself from my daughter, but I believe that a mum or dad who is suffering from post-natal depressionĀ  must do whatever it takes to safeguard themselves and their babies.

It does get better…..

The past few weeks have been so hard, but having just spoken to a psychiatrist today, and after having some space, I am again starting to feel okay again. I realise that I need to lower my expectations of myself as a parent, and perhaps stop following celebrity mum’s who seem to have the perfect life!

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What is interesting is that there is a lack of support groups in London for people with depression, especially in West London where I live. London is a place where people can easily become disparate from family, unknown to neighbours, or too busy to see friends. Surely it is somewhere like London where more support is needed? Such groups are needed as, in my experience, trying to speak to friends about how I felt was often met with a lack of understanding of the illness, or the response of ‘what do you have to feel sad about, you have a great life!’.

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This post barely touches on my experience of depression, but I just wanted to let people know that it does exist and it is okay to talk about it.

More awareness is needed, more support, and more encouragement to be open about the illness. I am therefore looking into setting up a relaxed support group for those suffering with depression, with various themes each time. I hope to hold these ‘chats’ in a relaxed environment as opposed to a sterile room, maybe even at my local pub! If anyone has any ideas, please do contact me, or keep an eye on this blog for more developments.

 

 

Where to go for help

For those mums or dads suffering from persistent low mood since having a baby, I would recommend seeking help. Speak to your GP, health advisor, or midwife if you have one. As I live in Ealing, I was referred to Ealing IAPT which is free service that provides psychological therapies, however, the service is available throughout the UK. Details can be found on the NHS Choices website. It is also possible to self-refer, but this process can take a while, so I would recommend seeing your GP to be referred. Furthermore, if any pregnant women are feeling low, it is best to speak to their GP or midwife so that treatment (talking therapies, possibly medication if safe) can be started before birth. This would mean that support is already in place.