Once upon a time there was a woman who wanted a child. She had longed for this child for years. This woman had always known she had wanted to be a mother and was sure with every fibre in her body that she was going to be a great one. That she was going to enjoy it. That despite the sleepless nights and the challenges it would throw at her, that she was going to be fine. That she was going to be enough.
This woman felt prepared to be a mum. This woman spent hours researching every item, gadget and babygro going. This woman had read all the baby books, had poured over all the mummy blogs and brought every parenting magazine. This woman had done pelvic floor exercises every day and ate all the right things. When this woman thought of motherhood she would think "bring it on"
This woman was me.
And boy oh boy what I wouldn't give for this woman (sat here typing this to you right now) to have been around to talk to that woman that once was. How different things would have been.
You see, that woman, despite all her preparation and in spite of how physically and practically prepared she was for motherhood, had missed one very important and crucial thing off her "Mum-to-be To Do List." And the most infuriating and upsetting part about all of this? The fact that that woman had no idea she should even have the thing she had missed off the list on there in the first place. She was not aware. Not one of the books, the magazines, the blogs or the numerous health professionals she had encountered and taken advice from had told her.
This woman sat here right now as a mum of two and a survivor of two battles with postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis wants to talk to that woman. She wants to get hold of her "Mum-to-be To Do list", take 'Buy buggy' off the number one spot and instead in big red marker write 'TAKE CARE OF YOUR MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH'. This woman wants to make sure that, that woman as well as knowing the right vitamins to take, the right buggy to buy and how to keep herself physically strong for motherhood, that she also knows in equal detail how to keep herself mentally strong for motherhood too.
This woman wants to empower that woman with the knowledge of how to keep herself mentally well through pregnancy. How to keep herself mentally strong for childbirth. How to recover mentally from childbirth and to know the importance of keeping herself mentally strong and well for motherhood. This woman wants her to know about the physical side effects motherhood can have but also the mental side effects too. The warning signs and where to get the right help and support to recover from them if she is the one in five women to be diagnosed with a maternal mental health illness.
Most importantly I want to tell that woman, that new mum, trying to find her way through new motherhood whilst suffering with her maternal mental health that she is enough, that she's done nothing to deserve this, that she is not alone and that she can be well again with the right help and support.
Unfortunately, I can't time travel so it's too late for my words to be of any help to the me, that once was. However, it's not too late for me to do all I can to say these words to you, the mum-to-be. You, the new mum and you the mum-to-be-again. Go and get your to-do list and at the top of it, please do yourself the biggest favour by writing in large capitals "TAKE CARE OF MY MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH" as alongside your physical health it is the most important thing to be on that list.
I would love your support in helping me spread the message of empowering every mum to take care of their mental health. You can do this by liking The Every Mum Movement Facebook page, Following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and signing up to the movement on the website. I also run a secret Facebook group that you can join by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org.