It’s been a rather challenging year with lows and highs, and I just hope the 2019 offers more of the happiness we’ve carried through 2018.Read more
It’s that time of year again when the ‘freshers’ are bouncing around university excited for their new, independent life. Signing up to societies and getting to know their (in most cases) new city and campus.
But it’s also that time of year where a lot of people are heading into their final year as students and are preparing for the next stage of adulthood, also known as reality where there are no ‘free overdrafts’, weekday drinking and basically, ‘shit’ gets serious.
As a student mum, I can safely say that becoming a mother in my second year at university, definitely prepared me for final year and heres why!
Before I became a mum, I would always make bold statements about the type of parent I wanted to be. But one thing I should never have said is “I won’t let my child do that”.
It’s quite easy to make assumptions of the type of parent you will be when you don’t have a child, but once you become a mum or dad you soon realise that ‘perfect parenting’ doesn’t exist.
Last year I decided to do 10 Things I Learned in 2016, and since it’s that cliché time of year (again) where everybody is making their New Years resolutions and summing up how their 2017 has been, I thought I would reflect on the year and what I have learnt…
Every person has a mental health and studies show that two-thirds of us have experienced some form of mental health illness in our life.
Mental health illnesses can range from anxiety to eating disorders, depression and forms of psychosis.
Today I’m going to focus on mental health illnesses in pregnant women, those who are postpartum, and new fathers who are struggling with pre or postnatal depression.
Speaking to my partner, Dylan, he told me what it was like for him through the pregnancy and afterwards.
When you’re a parent, you make up your rules, create your own routine and discipline in a way that works for you.
And what do you do if you’re not a parent, and you’re just looking after someone else’s child? Not disagreeing with the parent of said child.
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is people interfering with how a parent chooses to raise their child, (obviously in some cases it’s necessary).
It is not your job to decide what discipline method a person should use on a child, or if “one more drink of cola won’t hurt”.
You’re not the one who has to deal with the child 24/7. You don’t have to deal with the bedtime stress when they’re bouncing off the walls, or deal with the consequences of a “eat as much sugar as you want today”, the day after. So don’t change the rules.
Like I said, what mama says, goes.
Whether you’re the grandparents, auntie or uncle, a family friend, whether you’re the prime minister or Beyoncé, your opinion on how to raise a child that is not yours, is pretty much irrelevant.
If the mum or dad doesn’t want their child to have a bar of chocolate because their tea is in an hour, don’t say “one bar won’t hurt them” and give the child the chocolate.
You’re basically teaching the child to disrespect their parents.
You might think it’s harmless, and yes they’re ‘just a child’ (but trust me those mini me’s are a lot more clever than we think), but by outright disagreeing with the parent and interfering, you’re letting that child think that they can do that too.
Children need rules and boundaries, and they need to learn how to respect their parents because it teaches them how to respect authority figures as they grow up.
If you have something to say about it, or even just a general “well why can’t they have another ice cream?”
Ask when the child is not around.
There are far too many people wanting to be a child’s best buddy, and back their corner so that they will like them more, but all it does is interrupt the way a parent is trying to raise their child.
Raise your child however you want to raise them, just don’t ignore mum and dads rules and make your own.
While I was carrying Leo, I had every pregnant woman’s dream. No morning sickness, no weird cravings, I still fit into all my clothes so none of that ‘my jeans fit me’ one minute and the next ‘the zipper won’t even go up!’ But one thing I was definitely, 100% lucky with was a urine sample which showed I had Group B Strep (GBS).
It doesn’t sound like a pleasant thing to have, but a third of adults carry it (most without knowing) and typically has no symptoms or side effects with it, but it can be dangerous to pregnant women.
When I found out, I was just handed a letter by my midwife which said it showed up positive for group B Strep in a sample I gave, but my midwife didn’t tell me anything and just said I didn’t have to worry about it – so I didn’t.
I was due on the 13th of February, and on the 17th after having two sweeps, I started in early labour. I was told to go into hospital with my notes (which had the letter inside), and as normal the midwife read them, then sent me home as it could be a few days yet.
Saturday showed no signs…
Sunday came and nothing…
6:30am Monday, it all began. I was told several times to ‘not come in yet’ which was understandable, I wasn’t ready. At 1pm I rang the hospital and they said to come in.
The midwife read my notes and said to come back when I was absolutely ready to go.
When you have group B Strep, it can cause your baby to become ill during labour unless you are given antibiotics before giving birth (I was later told at least 2 hours before).
Not only can it be a threat during delivery, it can be during the pregnancy and after birth, (if your baby is infected with GBS, there are symptoms to look out for).
Most babies can be treated successfully, but if not it can cause life-threatening illnesses such as blood poisoning, pneumonia, or meningitis.
I am incredibly thankful, every single day that the midwife who delivered Leo actually took the time to open that letter in my notes, as without her I would dread to think what could have happened to our baby boy.
I was seen by 2 midwives before, and neither opened the letter or acknowledged it – I was sent away and told to come back when I was ready to push.
In the UK, pregnant women are NOT offered a routine check for group B Strep and you have to pay around £40 to find out if you carry it or not.
There are so many women who are holding their babies for the first and last time, that didn’t know they were carriers of Grouo B Strep until after they had given birth. They, like so many others are now pushing for routine checks on pregnant women, alongside the Group B Strep Support Group.
It was by chance that my midwife through the pregnancy asked for the results of a sample to be looked into a bit more, but I was never told what it was or any affects it could have.
When I was told by the midwife who delivered Leo about the antibiotics and the group B Strep, I didn’t have time to worry as I was in labour (luckily a slow labour so the antibiotics could work), it was only afterwards I realised how bad it could have gone.
So many people aren’t aware of what group B Strep is, and so many pregnant women don’t know they carry it until it (sometimes) is too late.
I had to stay in hospital 48 hours after Leo was born, just in case he showed any symptoms of early-onset GBS infection.
1 in 10 babies born with GBS will die from the infection.
Not many people are lucky enough to know if they are a carrier, and they can even have an extremely healthy baby, but the next might not be so lucky.
Please share and sign this petition to make it compulsory to have routine checks for group B Strep. It could save so many innocent lives, and prevent so many heartaches.
After having a baby, everyone asks how the mother is doing: “Are you feeling okay?”, “are you eating well?”, “how’re you coping?”.
Even the midwives and health visitors make sure the mother is doing okay, and the doctors at the six-week check-up. It’s understandable them asking, your bodies just gone through a painful experience, your emotions are all over the place (and I mean all over the place), but nobody asks how the father is doing.
Well, what about dad?
Around 1 in 10 new dads suffer from Postnatal Depression (PND) in the first 3 to 6 months of the babies life, with a heightened risk of suffering from PND when in your twenties.
It affects dads in the same way it affects mums, with some of the signs being:
- Socialising less
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Lack of energy
- Change in sleep patterns/ struggling to sleep
The hardest thing is admitting that you aren’t feeling yourself and that you need that extra support. Just be honest with yourself, no one will judge you if you need it and you won’t be the only person to ever feel that way.
There’s an expectation after you’ve had a baby that everything has to be fine. You’re meant to be on cloud-nine, struggling with the sleepless nights but smiling through it because it’s all worth it – you have a baby. But it is hard, and no one is happy 24/7 after having a baby.
Emotions are high for both mum and dad, nights are sleepless, everything is different. Relationships with family and friends change – you have new priorities and expectations.
Most of the time, the dad struggles as they feel that they can’t help their partner as they feel they’re doing things wrong because mum takes things the wrong way because of they are really hormonal.
Dads also struggle with building relationships with their babies. If the mum is breastfeeding, often dads feel useless in the night (sometimes in the day too) as they can’t help feed the baby. But there are other ways to bond, such as going for short walks or going to baby massage classes to relax your baby.
Twenty-five-year-old Tony Crone, Liverpool, suffered from postnatal depression after his daughter Elizabeth was born in 2014.
“I have good days and bad days,” he says, “but I just felt like I was failing. It’s just something nobody talks about though.”
He has since set up a website with his wife, Mel, called the PND Daddies, to help support other dads and provide them with a place they can go to for support and information.
You, mum and dad, are so precious to your baby and he/she loves you more than you know. It’s hard, but never feel useless because as long as your baby is loved and happy, you’re not doing anything wrong.
Just make sure you and your partner are okay.
So mums, if your health visitor or midwife forgets to ask how your babies dad is doing, give them a little reminder, or ask the dad how he’s doing too during one of the visits.
It’s okay not to be okay after having a baby. Make sure you both, (mum and dad) ask each other how they’re doing and reassure each other that they’re doing a great job. It’s hard to look after a newborn, never mind when you don’t feel yourself, so make sure you or your partner are okay and get the support/help you need.
Don’t be afraid to ask – just because you might need some support, doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job at all, you’re doing great.
The world of parenthood is a judgemental one, so to speak.
When you have a baby, some people (even total strangers), think that you want their opinions and their advice, even when you really don’t.
But everyone always has an opinion on how to raise your child.
People will tell you to do one thing, but when you do that, they tell you that you should do the opposite.
You can never win.
But at the end of the day, it’s your child.
Being a new parent, it’s hard at first trying to get into the swing of things, so I thought advice from my parents and other parents would be useful.
A lot of the time though, I felt as though the advice wasn’t right for us. When Leo needed winding and cried, people said to put him down he’s just being needy.
When I stopped breastfeeding too, I was told by the Health Visitor that Leo wasn’t getting enough milk from a bottle, so I should breastfeed again.
Leo put on more weight bottle feeding than when I was breastfeeding.
If you love them endlessly, through the tears and the giggles, you’re doing everything right by your child.
No one knows your child better than yourself.
Next time someone offers you some advice that you 100% know won’t work for you little one, just smile and say: “Thank you, but I think we’ll be alright”.
Yes, it’s that cliché time of year again when everyone writes posts about the highs and lows of 2016 and what they’re looking forward to most in the new year, (this year I’m going to learn how to multitask, I’ll need that with a baby and university!), but what harm does a little planning and reflecting do? Christmas is good for a bit of relaxing before everything gets hectic when the clock strikes 12 (maybe not that quick but it’s as good as) and thinking of everything the past year has brought, so here’s what I’ve learned in 2016…
- You can never have too much of something. The first thing I’ve learned is you can never have too much of something, whether that’s practical things such as deodorant, toothpaste, bleach (the boring things, basically), or even chocolate, who doesn’t love to indulge in a bit of chocolate eating now and then? As a woman, I love nothing more. I love being organized, so I like to have at least 2 of everything just in case I run out. Keeping on top of this was a lifesaver, (especially when I noticed my partner using my foundation every now and then and if he used the last of it he wouldn’t say), always having spares saved me from those panicked trips to the shop 5 minutes before you’re meant to be somewhere. So next time you’re picking up something, buy an extra and save yourself the trip!
- Follow your instincts. One thing I’m really bad at is trusting my own instincts because I doubt myself a lot. If your heart tells you to go for that job, but you feel like it wouldn’t benefit you in the long run, just go for it! It’s the same for if you get a bad feeling about something, trust yourself enough to know what you think you should do!
- Things change and people change. It’s a fact of life that not everyone or everything stays the same, we have to learn and grow and make changes that not everyone will agree with, but it’s okay to change things about yourself or in your life if it makes you happier. We also have to accept that others do this too and we might not like it but we have to be understanding of their needs which is sometimes hard but try to look at the bigger picture.
- Timing is everything. Not everything in life goes the way you want it to. When things don’t add up or go to plan it can be the most annoying thing in the world. You’ve just got to trust that it happened, or didn’t happen, for a reason.
- The little things matter. Just smiling at someone as you pass them on the street could make their day, there’s been plenty of times this year where a stranger smiling or picking something up for me that I’ve dropped has made my day a million times better. It’s the same with those you love, just making an extra cup of coffee in the morning for someone you live with might just brighten their day! This year my partner has told me every day that I’m beautiful, (even on those no make-up and hair tied up days) and I always do that embarrassed-girly denial thing, but deep down it’s made me feel more confident in myself and want to better myself too!
- It’s okay to let go. I personally find it hard to let go of anything, if I accidentally stepped on your toe in the supermarket I would spend the rest of the day (and month after) feeling guilty about it. But it’s not just those things, it’s things that have happened in the past that we might use as a defence for ourselves. Letting go and moving on, as cliché as that sounds, is a lot better than holding onto those tiny grudges or feelings that make us feel bad about ourselves.
- Lazy days are just as important as working days. I’m a strong believer in you get out what you put into this world, but sometimes you just want a sofa day where you binge watch TV shows and eat bad food. I think those days are important in order to rest and allow your brain to take a break, just as long as you don’t do it all the time!
- Having your hair tied up is more effort than down sometimes. I’m not one of those girls who can pull off the messy-bun look, so for me having my hair tied back or in a messy bun on my head takes a lot more effort than straightening or curling my hair! Anyone else has this problem?
- It’s okay to be happy, even when someone else isn’t. Never, ever feel guilty for celebrating or for being happy about something when someone near you is unhappy. Enjoying that moment of happiness is more important than hiding it because you never know when the world might knock you down again, just don’t boast or brag to the extent that someone else could feel worse. If it helps, let the person who is unhappy in and enjoy your happiness too and do everything you can to cheer them up!
- You don’t have to impress everyone. Don’t waste time on half-assed friends or half-assed people, if they don’t like you don’t let it bother you. The people in your life that love and care about you are the ones that matter most and will have the most impact on your life.