New mums need to take care of mental health, says campaigner

Laura found parenthood hard. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Laura found parenthood hard. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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NObodY thinks parenthood is going to be easy – but most mums-to-be will expect plenty of joy and happiness.

Laura Swan, from Morningside, fell pregnant with her first son at the age of 32 and set her sights on becoming the “perfect mum” as she waited anxiously to meet her baby.

“I forgot what lit me up. I stopped doing the things that filled up my soul but I struggled to admit it.”

Laura Swan

When little James finally arrived, she found the going much tougher than she had predicted – but it wasn’t until her second son was born two years later that she was diagnosed with postnatal depression.

Now, the 36-year-old wants to encourage other parents to make sure they give themselves attention to prevent mental health problems developing.

Laura, who remembers lying “in a heap on her living room floor” with depression, has decided to raise awareness coupled with the UK’s first Maternal Mental Health Week which is taking place until tomorrow.

She believes it’s important for mums to take time to care for themselves as well as their children.

She said: “I lost myself after my sons were born. It wasn’t until five months after I gave birth for a second time that I was finally diagnosed.

“I really didn’t expect motherhood to be as hard as what it was.

“My husband and I had been so excited about having a baby and becoming parents.

“But when it happened I didn’t know who I was any more.

“I forgot what lit me up. I stopped doing the things that filled up my soul but I struggled to admit it.

“I was looking around me thinking everyone else was doing things so much better than I was – I just felt like a rubbish mum.”

Laura hopes her story will encourage other mums suffering from the same symptoms to seek help.

She added: “I just want mums to know there are alternatives out there to anti-depressants if they are diagnosed with postnatal depression.

“I want to raise awareness of how difficult it is to get back off antidepressants when you are put on them.

“What I’m aiming to do is help mums be more proactive with their self-care so hopefully they won’t reach that point.

“Whether it’s going for a walk, doing yoga or simply sitting down and taking a break for five minutes – it is important for their wellbeing.

“I’m sure there are other mums out there that are in the same position I was in.”

Laura, who now lives in Peebles, has launched a six-week Mamaspace Course at the city’s Wellbeing Lab in the Restoration Yard in June.

It aims to help mums take control of their thoughts and emotions, develop a self care routine without guilt and become organised so they have energy to spare.

Laura also runs the Mamatribe Facebook page – a free service in which mums can talk to each other.

To sign up to Laura’s Mamaspace Course, visit: http://www.lauraswan.com/mamaspace-course/

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk