It’s OK to not be OK: Perinatal Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health day, a day which is used to raise awareness and recognition of mental health.

To be honest, a day that has passed me by without a second thought in other years.  Thinking it didn’t apply to me, that I wasn’t qualified to write anything on the subject.

This year it’s slightly different.  This year I am under the Perinatal Mental Health team for birth trauma and anxiety as my third pregnancy gets underway and that’s ok.  Because it’s ok to not be ok.

For the longest time I had taken the birth trauma from my previous births, locked it in a box never to be thought of again.  It was over.  It was done with.  And it was no longer relevant to my life.

Until it was

Fast forward to now, 29 weeks pregnant, and facing the exact same situation again.

28 weeks pregnant

The anxiety of the thought of, yet another, traumatic birth.

The terror in thinking that this time it might not work out as well.

Catastrophising scenarios in my head, over and over.

Understanding, rationally, that I am in a safe place.  In safe hands.  And this time, most importantly, understanding that I am in control and it won’t be like last time.

Yet, the thing with anxiety, with perinatal mental health, is that although I understand these things rationally, it doesn’t stop the thoughts running through my head.  Knowing what I know now doesn’t mean that my anxiety is any less surrounding the birth, especially as we draw ever closer.

Holding my bump, bated breath, willing him to kick when he hasn’t for a while.

Ignoring the fact that in just a matter of weeks I will be wheeled into theatre.

Waiting impatiently for each growth scan and nervously scanning the results, googling, is he growing, will he be an ok size to be born early.  Obsessively comparing him to the boys.

Mind racing as I lie down to sleep at night.

And I know I needed help

To deal with the emotion, the trauma and the upcoming delivery.  Luckily for me I am under a fantastic perinatal mental health team here in Doha.

I am talking about the births I had before, the birth I want now and how it will be different.

I play through different, positive scenarios in my head.  Focussing on the good, the moments that I am excited for.  Meeting our youngest son, the first cuddle, who he will look like.

I use my gratitude journal as a tool each day, to remind myself that there is so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.

Each morning I think of positive affirmations, and repeat them when I feel the catastrophic thoughts creeping in.

I do breathing exercises and muscle relaxation as taught by my psychologist.

But most of all, each day I remember, it’s ok to not be ok.  It’s ok to ask for help.

 

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Anxiety in Pregnancy:  How perinatal mental health issues are affecting me in a high risk pregnancy following birth trauma.  World Mental Heakth Day - it's OK to not be ok.

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