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Birthing in COVID and dealing with PND/A

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

@sammii_walters shares her continuous journey of healing from Postnatal Depression and Anxiety. I love what she has to say! "Fighting so hard to conceive London in the first place I imagined the beginning of her life would be prefect. From her birth, the first time I held her, kissing her and telling her that Mama had waited so very long to have her in my arms and I loved her, to our friends and family coming to the hospital, excitedly buying tiny gifts for her and giving her cuddles, to the happiness we would feel putting her in the car to bring her home, opening the front door and letting her fur sissy meet her and just finally being a family. How could I consider PND or PNA being a part of my story? I would have everything I had ever wanted, right there in our tiny bundle of joy. In actual fact the beginning of her life was almost the complete opposite for me. My pregnancy wasn’t the easiest but definitely not the most challenging. I was sick, everyday for 34 weeks. I vomited through anti nausea medication and took my fair share of trips to maternity because of this. Even while I was in labour, I had to be given these meds to stop the vomiting and make sure I stayed hydrated. Hyperemesis is NO JOKE people! In the lead up to L’s birth, I developed “Irritable Uterus”, believed to be caused by Endometriosis. This meant that the Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been experiencing since 27 weeks became increasingly painful. Again, this had me at the hospital a few times just to be sure she wasn’t going to make an early appearance. Then the shit show that is Covid-19 really took hold in Australia. My appointments had to be attended alone and FaceTime used so partners could be there. I remember FaceTiming Paul and we sat my phone in his chair in my OB’s office so he could still be part of our last appointment. During my last week of work everything began to shut down. Almost my entire company (700+ staff) were working from home by the Wednesday/Thursday. Our plan of having a local “babymoon” getaway for the weekend, was quashed by growing Covid numbers and travel bans.

London was born after my incredibly quick induction and labour, which I thought was amazing. Yes I am one of those weirdos who enjoyed their labour.

Covid then affected hospital visitors. Paul was permitted to stay with us but we were only allowed one other visitor. There was no way to choose just one person so we decided it was safer for it to just be the three of us.. *Side note, I would totally recommend this! I actually loved it just being the three of us. The bonding time was amazing.* However, prior to her birth, I did dream of our friends and family being able to attend and the joy that would bring us. I also really wanted to be able to call downstairs to the beautiful team from my clinic Grace Private and invite them up to meet her. They became part of our family too over the couple of years we worked with them but of course, this wasn’t allowed. These guys didn’t get to meet her until she was 8/9 weeks old. 😭 Leaving the hospital was horrible for me, that’s where the Postnatal Anxiety began to kick in. What if we hadn’t put her in her car seat properly? What if we crashed and she died? What if she started choking? What if I couldn’t look after her? What if I hurt her? What if I didn’t deserve her? I cried the entire way home.

We had no visitors for 3 and a half weeks after she was born. This included the midwife and Maternal Child Health Nurse visits, I feel these are so important. Instead I had a phone call from the MCHN and two FaceTime sessions with my midwives. Again, Covid has a lot to answer for. This was very isolating at a time where I felt I needed adult human contact the most. I needed the congratulations hugs. The friends crying tears of joy with me that she was finally in our arms. Heck, I just needed someone to ask me how I was doing, instead of the typical “How’s London?”

I grew increasingly anxious from the moment we brought her home onwards and the constant anxiety turned to such a deep sadness. I would lay in Paul’s arms in bed crying until I drifted off to sleep. For someone who is normally such a happy, bubbly personality, this was almost soul destroying. It wasn’t until I saw my OB at 5 weeks postpartum and she suggested I book an appointment with the clinics psychologist, that I even realised it was more than just normal, hormonal, baby blues. I’ve been seeing her ever since and the days of sadness have become much less frequent. With the help of my wonderful medical team and the constant support from Paul and my close friends, I have started to come out the other side. I probably won’t ever be exactly the same but that is okay. I am beginning to realise I am stronger than I know. Even on my darkest days, I have managed to get through and become better for it. I plan to continue to see my psychologist for my own mental development and well-being.

In all honesty I believe that all new mothers and even fathers should see a psychologist or at least be given the opportunity. It’s such an incredibly challenging and life altering time and even if it’s just to speak to someone without them passing judgement or offering their advice is so helpful. We look after our physical health, by exercising, eating healthy and visiting our doctors, why is it that we don’t treat our mental health with the same respect?"

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