By Anila Baig

POST-NATAL depression affects one in ten women and can have a devastating effect upon any new mum, but thankfully much more is known about how to provide support and help to get through what is a difficult time. Here, in our continuing series on mental health in the community, we talk to two young mums who both suffered from post-partum depression to find out how they got help.

TRISH Pedley was overjoyed when she discovered she was pregnant.

Originally from London she came up to Bradford to study and then met her husband and settled down in Idle.

But Trish, 38, who had suffered from mental health issues including anxiety and depression, found that these feelings re-surfaced after the birth.

“The baby was perfect and much wanted and loved but sleep deprivation is a big trigger for me and my son, Teddy, would wake hourly.”

She had come off her medication when she discovered she was pregnant and coupled with complications during the birth itself, she felt very isolated afterwards.

“My husband’s family was very supportive but I missed being able to chat to my own mum and, because I was in a new city, I didn’t have that network of friends either. It was a very isolating time.”

She was overly anxious about her baby and wouldn’t let anyone else look after Teddy which in turn exacerbated her fatigue.

“Self-care went out of the window. I felt powerless and alone. I didn’t know I had post-natal depression until my health visitor said it.”

When she gave birth to her second baby, Ezra, she felt completely different.

“I felt so happy and calm after my second baby, I just couldn’t believe how I could have had two such differing experiences.”

So three years ago she set up a community interest group called Hey Mama to support mothers who suffer from mental health issues after conducting a Facebook survey.

“I got so many responses, isolation was a common theme as was not feeling good enough.

“When you have a job or career you are trained but with motherhood you have a tiny human in front of you who changes hourly and you have no manual, no textbook, telling you what to do. It can be terrifying.

Now Teddy is nearly five and Ezra is two and a half.

“I would say to anyone who feels isolated do reach out, we have online forums and will re-start meetings after lockdown. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have a newborn during lockdown, your feelings would be magnified even more but you are not alone, I promise you that.”

Intense isolation also affected 22-year-old Iman (not her real name) after she gave birth.

All her friends were going to university but there was nothing she wanted more than to get married and start a family. She was just 18 when she moved half way across the country to tie the knot in Bradford.

“It is unusual in this day and age to want to get married so young and my family was against the idea especially as they are all professionals. All the women in the family are highly educated but it was my choice to get married and I was very happy with it.”

But becoming a mother wasn’t straightforward and Iman suffered a series of devastating miscarriages.

She also gave birth to a baby boy who only lived for a few hours.

Unsurprisingly it plunged Iman into a deep depression.

“It was a horribly traumatic time. It was the one thing I wanted more than anything but I couldn’t have it.”

Iman, a practising Muslim, eventually did give birth to a healthy baby girl.

“I should have been overjoyed, I was finally a mother but I really struggled to bond with the baby. I couldn’t put the grief of losing the other babies behind me.”

To add to the stress, her new baby was challenging from the start, suffering nine solid months of colic where she would cry throughout the night and during the day.

“I was like a zombie, utterly sleep deprived, unable to function at all.”

She had no family nearby and had not made many friends in her new environment.

“I didn’t want to confide in the GP because I felt that they would judge me and not understand my culture and background so I suffered in silence. I didn’t understand why motherhood was so hard for me when this is what I had wanted all along. I was also scared to confide in my family because they would say; ‘I told you so’ as they had never supported my decision to marry young.”

But with the help of her husband she began to get into a routine and she made friends with the women in her neighbourhood and some semblance of normality began to take shape.

Then she discovered she was pregnant again.

“This time I was meant to have a doula but the night I went into labour she was unavailable and I found myself giving birth on my own. There were complications and I had to have a Caesarean section.”

With two very young children Iman found herself struggling again, now with added guilt that she couldn’t have a natural birth.

“It was extremely difficult but the doula service asked me if there was any way they could help. So I told them I was struggling and they got me in touch with the community mental health charity Sharing Voices.”

Iman said the charity has been a lifeline.

“It makes a massive difference being able to speak with someone from the same background as previously when I have spoken to my GP I felt they didn’t understand our culture and faith.”

Iman had a mixture of face to face meetings with a counsellor as well as phone support and was able to talk through all the pent up feelings she had about the previous pregnancies and the loss of her son.

“I suffered in silence for a long time because I was worried I would be judged but now I realise that a lot of that was in my own head. My daughter is still challenging but thanks to Sharing Voices I know I am not alone.”

• If you’re struggling as a new mum, speak to your GP or a health professional you know, perhaps someone who is supporting your pregnancy or providing postnatal support, as soon as possible to get help.

• Family Action help pregnant women and mums up to the child's first birthday, where they may be struggling with their emotional health and wellbeing or where they have been diagnosed with a low to moderate level mental illness such as anxiety or depression. Get help over the phone or video call by calling 01274 505 034.

• If you need urgent help to keep safe call First Response on 01274 221 181. This line is open all day, every day.

• The PANDAS Foundation provides a FREE helpline: 0808 1961 776. Available on all landlines. Monday – Sunday 11am-10pm

• can help you find useful information and local support to keep your mind healthy

• For more information on Sharing Voices visit: or call 01274 731166.