Pregnancy and New Parents
The world is quite a strange place at the moment and you may not be experiencing pregnancy or motherhood as you would have hoped. Having a baby can be a wonderful experience but at times you may feel anxious, sad, angry or frustrated as well as grateful and happy. This mixture of emotions may seem overwhelming and it may feel like you are on our own with them, but you are not alone. Often night times are one of the most difficult periods, new born babies cluster feed more at night than during the day so it can be very difficult for you to sleep, if you have other children at home you may find it difficult to nap during the day. All the extra worry and lack of sleep can make anyone anxious yet when you are a parent it seems that you worry about everything.
If you feel that you would like some extra support then during the day you can contact the Perinatal Community Health Team on 0161 271 0188. However, on weekends or during the night you can contact the Greater Manchester Mental Health Helpline on 0800 953 0285. This helpline is open 24 hours a day 7 days week.
Remember to attend all your appointments with your midwife, health visitor or GP as it is important to care for you and your baby’s physical health. You should also continue with all your prescribed medication, if you have any questions about your medicines please contact the community mental health team on 0161 271 0188 or your GP. At the moment it can take longer to get your repeat prescription so please make sure you order it in advance and you could also arrange for your pharmacy to deliver it.
Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
It is important that you look after yourself but you may put everyone else’s needs before your own. If you’ve ever been on a plane the cabin staff ask you to put on your oxygen mask first so that you can help your children. The same philosophy applies to this situation, if you forget to look after yourself then you can feel more stressed. Try to create a simple plan of the day as this will give you some structure and you can then remember to include some self care. You could start with planning what time you will have your meals and what time you’d like to go to bed.
Supporting Children and Babies
This can be an unsettling time for children as their usual routine has changed completely, they may be missing friends and other family members. Children tend to find it difficult to tell you what they are feeling but may let you that they are unhappy and worried by being defiant, having tantrums or wanting extra cuddles. Babies and very young children will not know what is going on, but will pick up on emotions.
- Keep talking to them, playing with them, and being reassuring and soothing them as much as you can.
- Allow older children to ask questions.
- Explain what you can in an age-appropriate way. Younger children may understand a cartoon or picture better than an explanation.
- It’s OK to say you don’t know – most adults don’t know what’s going to happen.
- Ask them how they are feeling and allow them to express difficult feelings. Ask them for any ideas they have about what might help them. You could try talking about this, writing, or drawing a picture.
- Give practical advice about staying healthy – e.g. washing hands and using tissues for coughs and sneezes.
Activities and Worksheets
When thinking about structuring your day try not to be too fixed, you may plan to do school work with your older children but actually you are all a bit fed up and can’t really do it; so try something else like a game of snap or ludo.
Pancakes for breakfast
Go for a walk
Tidy kitchen drawer
|School work||Watch live at Chester Zoo||Go on a bug hunt||Pyjama Morning|
Picnic in the park
|School work||Rock painting||School work||Face painting||Make mud pies|
|Evening||Bubble bath||Paint nails||Listen to headspace app||Call friends||Movie night||Family kitchen disco||Face mask|
Try to monitor your mood throughout the day. It may help you identify times when you need to change your routine or focus on some self care. You may find that you feel sadder in the morning, if so try to have a slower start to the morning or call a friend. If you notice any patterns then you can let your mental health worker know and they can support you to explore this. If you notice that you are not in a good mood then it can be useful to change what you are doing, how we behave can have a effect on our mood, for example, it is very difficult to be sad when you jump on a trampoline. You may also want to try some mindfulness as this can help you feel calm. You don’t need to do much, just a minute can have a big effect on your mood. There are loads of apps that you can use on your phone, headspace is a very good one or you could look at this website here.
Looking to the Future
Remember this situation won’t last forever, so although we don’t know when we will be able to see family and friends and go to the cinema you could create a bucket list of things that you’d like to do. Try to fill the bucket with everything that you miss, eating out, going to the Trafford Centre, going to the cinema, visiting family.
Social Isolation Advice for Families
This is an extremely difficult time for everyone so you need to be kind to yourself, you are trying your best in a situation that we no one has ever been in before.
- Try to have some structure to the day – involve children in making a ‘timetable.’
- Create a routine – children need predictability.
- Use any advice or learning resources from school, but allow lots of time for free play and creativity too. Try to find time for your own hobbies and interests or for learning something new.
- Try to focus attention on one thing at a time (especially if working from home). Try to give your children your full attention whenever you can.
- Try to stay active – exercise and movement really help with feelings. Involve children in physical activities: yoga, dancing, PE (there are lots of online resources to help with this).
- Get outdoors as much as is possible – get fresh air each day in the garden or in the local area if you can.
- Keep in touch with family and friends using phone or video. Support children to speak to their friends this way too.
- See if there is a local neighbourhood support group in your area, or think if there is anything you could do to support vulnerable neighbours.
- You can speak to your care coordinator, who will be either in the Specialist Perinatal CMHT or another mental health team.
- You can contact the Specialist Perinatal CMHT Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, on 0161 271 0188
- You can contact the Greater Manchester Health NHS Trust Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on 0800 953 0285
- Samaritans has a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence. Call them on 116 123
- You can contact NHS 111 if you need urgent care but it’s not life-threatening · In a medical emergency, call 999 if you are seriously ill or injured and your life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.
Help from other places
There are lots of organisations that provide support for people experiencing perinatal mental health
- The PANDAS foundation supports people and their families who experience perinatal mental problems. They have a website https://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/ and also a phone line 0808 1961 776. Available on all landlines. Monday – Sunday 9am- 8pm. Manned by a team of trained volunteers who will be happy to chat to you and direct you to the right support. They also provide email support: firstname.lastname@example.org available 365 days a year. They respond within 72 hours and they provide support for families, friends and colleagues too.
- The APP is a charity that supports women and families who experience post partum psychosis. They have lots of information and also run a help forum and have lots of resources.
- Laura Dockrill has recently released a book about her experiences of post partum psychosis it’s called ‘what have I done?’.
- Anna Mathur has also written a book about her experiences with anxiety and worry ‘Mind Over Mother: Every mum's guide to worry and anxiety in the first year’.