Rebecca’s Blog: Mental Health Week: “From the moment I was pregnant”

News / Sun 6th May 2018 at 11:19am

Cllr Ian Beckett, Harlow’s Mental Health Champion writes: As Maternal Mental Health Week draws to a close I have to share this blog by Rebecca Munns.

Rebecca grew up and went to school in Harlow and although living in Dubai for the last few years has remained in close contact with her Harlow family and friends. Her story is an important one that will empower those who have had similar experiences and those working to support them:

“It’s Maternal Mental Health Week, so here goes an essay…

From the moment I found out I was pregnant until about the time Maddie was 6 months only, my main overarching emotion wasn’t love or joy, it was anxiety.

I worried about EVERYTHING. In the early days it was how we were going to afford a baby, to how I was going to cope being so far from home, to where I was going to get maternity clothes from, to how it was going to impact my career, to whether our health insurance was going to cover everything, to what if something was wrong.

I remember crying at our 20 week scan because I’d convinced myself that she was bound to have some obscure genetic condition. It sounds awful now, but I was never excited about being pregnant. Just worried.

Then when she was here I became obsessed about whether she was feeding properly, what she weighed, convinced she wasn’t hitting milestones on time. I remember when she was first born crying in a shopping centre with my Mum and Dad because she’d been asleep for four hours. My rational brain tells me now that that’s just what (slightly jaundice) newborns do, but back then my irrational brain was telling me that there was something desperately wrong (there wasn’t, of course).

I went to baby groups but secretly found them fraught with anxiety and spent most of the time comparing my baby to the others around me. I was a sucker for baby league tables. I was worried that my anxiety was preventing me from loving my own daughter. I became a bit of a hermit, especially with childless friends who I thought just wouldn’t be able to relate to how I was feeling.

Things eventually got better and the fog lifted. Now I have a two year old who can be a right royal pain in the arse at times but she’s also my biggest and best achievement. She makes me laugh every single day. She hit all those milestones, and then some.

Rebecca 2

Rebecca 1

I wish now that I’d spoken to someone about how I was feeling in the early days, even just to acknowledge that my anxieties were normal to an extent. There isn’t any form of postnatal care in Dubai (in fact I’m not even sure that mental health issues are covered by insurance companies point blank), which makes things harder. If I could go back in time I’d tell myself that it’s ok not to feel ok, but talking about it is important.

As BT used to say, “it’s good to talk” and feeling anxious about having a baby is definitely worth talking about.”

Thank you Rebecca. People aren’t shy about talking about their bunions (some share photos!) so the more we speak openly like this, the more, hopefully, people will seek the support they need and deserve.

Rebecca 2

Rebecca 1

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