Nisa, 28, is mum to three children under the age of five. When her youngest son was born, she simply felt like she couldn’t face the world each day until support came in the form of Better Start Bradford’s Perinatal Support Service. The service has had such an impact on her life that she intends to become a Perinatal Peer Support Volunteer in the future so she can help other mums turn their lives around just as she did when she felt at her lowest.
After my youngest son was born, I felt very low. My anxiety was on a whole new level and I just didn’t know what to do with myself and I didn’t even want to leave the house at all. My eldest son had just started reception and my daughter was in nursery, and there were days where I just couldn’t face taking them to school.
I just did not know what was wrong with me!
On the days that I managed to do the school run, I would see other mums that looked so happy and content with their babies and it would just make me feel worse. I would get home and stay in the car for ages as I couldn’t then face going back into my house. I just did not know what was wrong with me, I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know who to turn to for help – I couldn’t tell my family as I didn’t want them to think that I wasn’t capable of being a parent.
The Health Visitor recognised that I was depressed
I was also missing doctor’s appointments and immunisations for my children. I had not replied when they had tried to contact me so they had sent a Health Visitor to my house to check if I was ok. She recognised that I was depressed and recommended the Perinatal Support Service to me. The Perinatal Support Service provides emotional support to families where a parent is struggling with their emotional health. This is offered on a one to one basis or as group sessions called ‘My Baby and Me’.
If my Health Visitor hadn’t intervened when she did, then I probably would have just continued on a downward spiral.
Waheeda from the Perinatal Support Service came to visit me in my home. She outlined what was involved in the group sessions and made me feel fully at ease. In the lead up to the first session, they rang me to reassure me and to check that I was still going to come, and I promised that I would.
Everyone was so welcoming
I was so anxious on the day of my first meeting with the group. In fact, I drove into the carpark and drove straight back out again to return home. My little girl turned around to me and said ‘Mummy, I thought we were going to a new playgroup today – you promised.’ I then turned back around and parked up and went into the group. As soon as I saw Waheeda was there and that everyone was so welcoming, I felt much better about being there.
I slowly began to feel more happier and more confident
As I went to each session, I slowly began to feel happier and more confident. It was a revelation to me that there were lots of other mums who felt exactly the same as me. After seeing the ‘happy’ and ‘content’ mums at the school gates, I seriously thought I was on my own in feeling how I did, but to be there with other mums who could absolutely relate to how I was feeling was such a comfort.
The ‘My Baby and Me’ sessions in the group use techniques around role play and games called ‘Theraplay’ and at first I thought they were a little silly, but I soon realised that they all meant something and taught us about our relationship with our children. I also found them a lot of fun and would often giggle along with the other mums.
We did role playing activities to show us how our children may feel
One role-playing activity that stood out was one that demonstrated how ignoring our children when we are focused on our phone really impacted on their emotions and behaviour. We were made to look at how we would feel if someone was ignoring us – that really opened my eyes to how my children would feel in that situation. Another ‘game’ made us turn negatives into positives such as having to cancel a holiday and how we would explain that to our children by saying ‘it’s fine it means we can have a bigger, better holiday later!’. The idea of this is to build our own and our children’s resilience, if we can have a positive outlook then so will our children.
It was this that made me realise how my own emotions had been impacting on how my children were feeling. I didn’t want my problems to affect my children any longer.
I now want to be that person telling a mum that they can get better
Over the weeks I started to feel much better and I really looked forward to the session on a Monday, I was sad when they ended. The change in me was so huge, I now want to become a Perinatal Support Volunteer myself. I want to be that person telling a mum that they can do it because I have been there and done it. I want to be with them every step of the way. I never thought I could be happy again, but I am.
I can’t thank the Perinatal Support Service enough for all the support and help that they gave me – they were amazing. Put simply – they turned my life around and I would really recommend other mums who are feeling like I did to ask their midwife, doctor, health visitor or Family Hub about the service.
About the Perinatal Support Service
The Perinatal Support Service provides emotional support to families where a parent is struggling with their emotional health or well-being during pregnancy and the first year after birth.
The Perinatal Support Service is aimed at pregnant women who have, or are at risk of developing, mild to moderate mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
The project provides support to parents through a dedicated trained volunteer ‘befriender’ who will offer emotional support and support to access other services in the community. It helps women through their pregnancy and up until their baby’s first birthday, and can work with their partners too.
During COVID-19 the Perinatal Support Service co-ordinators and volunteers are supporting families over the phone or via video calls, and referrals are still being accepted via the contact details below. They are continuing to accept applications from potential volunteers.
For urgent queries ring: 01274 505034 / For non-urgent queries e-mail: [email protected]
How to become a volunteer with the Perinatal Support Service