I want to use my first blog to say hello and maybe to bust some myths about what seeing a psychiatrist might be like.
Many women have a new episode of mental ill health during or after pregnancy and it can be understandably so scary.
Often women get unwell quickly but I want you to know that most women also feel better really quickly too.
We know that often, in fact almost half the time, women don’t seek help. They suffer in silence afraid of being labeled or judged or that their children might be taken away from them.
As a perinatal psychiatrist my role is to provide specialist care to women and to support them to remain well at home with their baby. My aim is never to separate mum from her baby.
I understand what it is to be a new mum. How sleep deprivation affects you. How depression and anxiety can creep up on us. How a traumatic birth can lead to irritability and thinking all day about your birth and replaying it over and over. I know that suicidal thoughts can happen often and that if they do you need to come and see me.
I work with women to draw up a treatment plan that suits them. This might be using supplements, medication, exercise, building social networks or making dietary changes. It should always be about what feels right to you.
I want you to know that medication is not the only solution. Sometimes it’s absolutely needed and saves lives but it should be part of a bigger more holistic plan too.
The government has invested a lot of money in perinatal mental health and most areas across the country now have specialist teams. You can find your closest team at Everyone’s Business where they have a map of the whole UK.
Your GP can refer you to your local perinatal team to be seen if needed. Or you can self refer to therapy. Or your GP may look after you.
The aim is to give every woman access to the same care wherever she lives. If you feel that isn’t happening I want you to pluck up the courage to go back and ask for a second opinion or call PANDAS for support. Or email me or DM me on Instagram.
I want to use this blog to talk about mental health. Openly. Without judgement. To empower and inform. Not to scare. Because lots and lots of us get depressed, or anxious, or have intrusive thoughts or have a traumatic birth including myself.
Lots of us miscarry, I have twice, or have an abortion.
So the more we talk about these issues the better.
Don’t hesitate to ask if you want me to cover any particular topics around emotional wellbeing.
Next time we are going to think about depression in pregnancy and after birth.
Much love to you all