I have been with my partner since 2015. All the way through our relationship there was never any issues relating to mental health. In 2019 we found out she was pregnant with our first child. I could see a change almost straight away in my partner’s mental health which began to decline. She became very set back and undecided about what she wanted to do, whether we kept the baby or not. This obviously caused a few issues in the relationship but in the end she wanted to keep the baby which we both were very happy about.

My partner has epilepsy and as the pregnancy progressed she became very unwell to the point her seizures became uncontrollable and she ended up admitted to hospital multiple times, including being rushed to hospital in an ambulance and taken straight to Resus. Getting those calls telling me my partner was there was never easy and really upset me, it just never seemed to get easier. Due to the seizures it became very apparent that my partner started to have negative thoughts about the pregnancy and also becoming a mother.

Initially I thought she was getting through it and began to see the good in what was about to become but when the baby was born it all changed.

When our daughter was first born during Covid there was not much help available before, during and after, for example there were no classes where she could meet other mums. Both being new parents it was a very daunting and stressful time.

I took extra time of work to support my partner at the start due to the seizures. It became apparent very quickly that my partner was struggling more than ever with her mental health. She became very distant with both me and the baby it was heart breaking to see the person I loved in such a dark place.

I recall very early on waking up on the sofa to the baby laid in the cot on the floor next to me crying and I could hear my partner crying in the kitchen. I consoled our daughter before walking into the kitchen area to my partner sat in the middle of the floor crying and not being able to say much to me other than she can’t do it.

My partner became more reserved and was breaking down almost daily to the point she began walking out the house without saying where she was going and what she was doing.

At this point I was broken and felt useless as to what I could do. Seeing my partner in such a bad place I ended up having to have time of work and ended up on medication which I had never had to take before. After around a month I felt in a much better place due to the support from the organisation and family that I returned to work.

We were very lucky that our parents helped us as much as they could but it became very apparent professional help was needed for her. We contacted our health visitor and informed them of what had been happening. They then referred my partner to the Perinatal Mental Health Team for support who were very good with both our daughter and my partner and offered lots of support which I could see was beginning to work. For a month or two things seemed to be going back to normal to the point she was signed off by the Perinatal Team and to be honest I felt things were finally looking up for us all and I felt better in myself.

I was back at work at this point and was on an attachment where it meant I was home on nights and could support my partner with the night feeds. As my attachment was coming to an end my partner informed me that she was scared about me going back to my old shift pattern as she felt she couldn’t cope. She became that scared she began to self-harm which I was completely unaware about as she was hiding it from me up until this point.

Just as I thought things were looking up it turns out my partner had been in a dark place again. From being off work the first time I ensured that I followed what advice I was given previously & what I had learnt which helped me deal with the issues without myself breaking. Luckily the organisation supported me and I managed to stay on the shifts I had been doing. This really helped both me and my partner.

My partner is still in contact with mental health services and is gaining support. One thing I did notice not once was I asked how I was managing, the focus was on my partner and the baby, although I am thankful for their support for them. It just shows how men’s mental health throughout is forgotten about. I am not even sure if they were aware that I ended up off work due to mental health.

I have suggested to all those that were involved in my partner and daughters care that there is more support for both Mum & Dad’s mental health after birth.

I was lucky I had the support from both the organisation and our families, but what happens to those that have neither?

Anonymous


My experiences of perinatal mental health started over a decade ago when my first child was born. My wife had a good pregnancy and there were no warning signs that her mental health was about to significantly suffer. The birth was long (around 17 hours from memory) and my son was born in the early hours. My wife had had no sleep and had quite literally pushed herself to the limit giving birth. She was ecstatic though and I was sent home leaving her with the new baby.

All was well overnight until I received a phone call from her then next morning. She had had a huge panic attack which had petrified her. She then had to stay in hospital for a few days as my son was having issues feeding etc. My wife was tired, emotional, scared of what had happened and thoughts of being an unfit mother started to creep in.

These steadily got worse. Her mood was so low and she started to get health anxiety about herself and the baby. These feelings were debilitating to her. She couldn’t function properly which added to her feelings of feeling like she was being robbed of what was supposed to be the most special time. Anyone who has been through perinatal mental health issues or has supported someone through them will tell you that the road is long. There are no quick fixes. Every happy memory she had was forgotten when she wasn’t very well. Every time we went to the doctors the solution seemed to just be anti-depressant medication but rightly or wrongly this was not a route she wanted to go down so she looked for alternative treatments such as CBT, counselling etc. This was of some assistance but not much and what I found was that treating this issue is multi-faceted with the biggest emphasis on support and time.

I put her and the baby first and had to really support her like I’d never had to before. I had to remind her during the really dark moments that things would get better etc.

It affected her career. She was a professional woman with career aspirations but the way the illness manifested itself she couldn’t be around other people which then affected her more as it wasn’t only happiness that was taken away from her it was her ability to be the person she had for the last 30 years.

It was difficult for me also as I was a new dad. I had to look after my son and my wife and learn how to deal with mental health issues. It was like wearing ten different hats. I was a psychologist, father, husband, doctor, counsellor and on top I had to go do a job at work.

Work were extremely supportive and my line managers at the time couldn’t have done enough for me as the main thing I needed at that time was flexibility to be able to respond quickly if she was poorly, which they gave me in abundance.

The learning that I was able to take has really helped me help others going through similar. It is something I am passionate about and if I can ever offer advice, support etc I reach out to people, sometimes you only want to be told things will get better….which they will and do!

Anonymous