We, Cuidiú Dublin Southwest are hosting a Winter Fair on Sunday the 20th of November from 2pm to 5pm in the Zion Parish Parish Hall Rathgar.
The Winter Fair will have craft stalls and we want these to be showcasing the talents of our Cuidiú family. So if you make, paint, craft or create anything and you would like the opportunity to showcase & sell your wares please download & complete the attached form then send it through to Yvonne on: events@cuidiudsw.ie
Note: There is a €20 booking fee & all vendors are to be confirmed by the end of September.

CuidiuDSW_Winter_Fair_Booking_Form

A 6-week antenatal course with Cuidiu Antenatal teacher Mim Hanan Moran starts soon in Rathfarnham. The dates are as follows:  Tuesday 11thand 18th December, and  8th , 15th, 22nd and 29th January 2013.

Each class will take place from 7:00 to 9:00pm each Tuesday evening. Any preferred time or evening of the week changes can be organised by the group on the first night. Or in advance of the course by email.  A local Cuidiu breastfeeding counsellor will facilitate a breastfeeding information session as part of the course.

Mim will organise a date for the postnatal meeting in the last class.

The classes will take place at: 5 Highfield Court, Marley Grange, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16. However, this venue might change, depending on the numbers attending the course.

The course will include such topics as labour, birth, postnatal issues, choices of care and parenting issues. In the first class the group will be given an opportunity to set an agenda for the course, where you can bring up any topics or issues that you may have concerns about or wish to gain further knowledge in.

Please fill out and return the BOOKING FORM

The cost of the course is €150  – €50 deposit (non refundable), to hold your place for attendance.. The fee includes membership to the local branch of Cuidiu, the Irish Childbirth Trust. We run parent and toddler groups, breastfeeding support services, evening meetings, and other activities. The fee also allows course attendees a discount on the price of infant massage courses I regularly facilitate and doula services I offer.

Please contact Mim if you have any questions mimhananmoran@gmail.com or (087) 7790293

 

 

Mim

Cuidiú antenatal teachers are often asked what the difference is between the antenatal classes they teach and the antenatal classes run at the maternity hospitals. Sometimes it’s asked on an internet forum.  Someone might then answer saying that the classes are all the same, but she/he definitely hasn’t done a Cuidiú antenatal class!

So what’s the difference? Firstly, the training – each Cuidiú antenatal teacher has spent approximately two to three years studying for the specialised antenatal education qualification. All aspects of childbirth and parenting are explored.  As well as the academic side, participants in the training course spend time on personal development to ensure that at the end of the training they are reflective practitioners who teach flexibly and responsively in order to meet the needs of the clients in their groups.  What they teach is grounded in years of experience and evidence-based research and practice.   The current qualified teachers all trained with the NCT (UK) and are licenced to practice with NCT and Cuidiú.

Secondly, Cuidiú antenatal classes are informal and flexible.  They aim to provide parents with support, information, skills and resources to help them gain confidence and make choices for childbirth and early parenthood that are right for them.  Cuidiú teachers are not confined to teaching just one particular hospital’s policies.  Instead participants learn about the policies in existence in the different maternity units and learn skills that will help them make their own informed decisions and choices.  Groups sizes are small, usually 3-8 couples, with lots of opportunity to participate and ask questions. Partners’ learning forms a very important part of the class.  A full course entitles attendees to a year’s free membership of Cuidiú, so they are automatically introduced to a wider network of support, including postnatal support, breastfeeding counselling and friendship.

Different course formats are available such as weekly classes, one-day Saturday classes, private 1-to-1 sessions and more.  Some teachers also run Pregnancy Relax Stretch Breathe classes and free Early Pregnancy Classes.    Labour ward tours, breastfeeding sessions and reunions are also included.

Cuidiú antenatal classes are about supporting parents in whatever their choices for their births, equipping them with information and skills to make informed decisions and helping them build confidence so they feel empowered and satisfied with their own birth experiences.

For info on classes in the Dublin area, www.antenataldublin.ie and for the rest of Ireland www.antenatalireland.ie

There were lots of great speakers at this year’s Association of Lactation Consultants of Ireland (ALCI) conference in Maynooth, but for me the highlight of the day was the last speaker, Mary Mahon RN, RM, IBCLC, BScN from Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. The title of Mary’s presentation was ‘Implementing The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) Step 4. A Change Management Project ’. She described how she went about changing the existing practice at the hospital of separating mothers and babies born by caesarean section to implementing one which involves facilitating skin-to-skin contact immediately following delivery and lasting up to 60 minutes and beyond. This means keeping the baby with the mother in theatre and recovery – not only for the well-being of mother and baby but also because it is a key factor in helping to establish early breastfeeding. This is one of the practices recommended by the BFHI, which states that hospitals should help mothers to initiate breastfeeding within one half hour after birth (for information about BFHI see http://www.unicef.org/programme/breastfeeding/baby.htm) .

When Mary first decided to get this project off the ground, 0% of babies born by caesarean section in Portiuncula were kept in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after they were born. So Mary had her work cut out for her! During her presentation she talked us though how she went about initiating the project by evaluating the current practice and setting out clear aims, ie to increase to 60% the number of infants having immediate skin-to-skin contact following caesarean birth, and to increase the overall number of infants remaining in skin-to-skin contact to 80%. As you would expect, she encountered resistance but she worked hard to communicate with all stakeholders (consultants, midwives, nurses, administration staff) and educate them about the benefits of the project. She also spent a lot of time doing research by talking to mothers who had previously had a caesarean birth at the hospital, and to hospitals in New Zealand and the US who already had this standard in place for caesarean delivery. Her hard work and determination eventually paid off, because she did get people on board and bring about cultural change in the hospital in regard to caesarean deliveries. The project began in January 2011 and was evaluated in April 2012 – the results were extraordinary. In little over a year, the hospital went from a rate of 0% (skin-to-skin immediately after c-section) to over 60%, and from 78% (skin-to-skin after normal deliveries) to close to 100%.

It is now standard procedure in Portiuncula Hospital for babies born by caesarean section to be kept in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following delivery and for up to 60 minutes and beyond. The practice standard is linked to managements monthy Key Performace Indicators and critical incident reports and completed when there is non-compliance. Well done Mary Mahon, you’re an inispiration! Let’s just hope that other Irish maternity hospitals will follow Portiuncula Hospital’s lead.

Guest Blog post by Sheila O’Malley www.practicalparenting.ie

Are you struggling with their anger or tantrums?

With a new awareness in our parenting we can make new choices & take new actions

As I write this blog, I have to put my hand up and say that I did not do much of what I am now advocating  when my children were this age, I regret it but with a new awareness now I can do something different. When I respond differently, my children respond differently so conflict needs to be seen as an opportunity for positive change. Every parent does their best, with what they got as a child, with what they received. I say to parents ‘Give yourself a break, you may be parenting as you were parented, you could not  give what you never got or experienced, however for you and I; now with a new awareness of what a child needs, we can do something different and, you will get a different response.

A distressed, upset child needs compassion, soothing & physical comfort to bring him/her back into balance.

A challenging child is not trying to make your life difficult; rather they may be trying to tell you how difficult life is for them. Therefore, it makes sense that the only way to be with a child is to be kind, yet firm, compassionate not cross. We may need to get in charge of our behavior, in order for them to learn how to get in charge of their behavior.

Children need help with their big feelings

Provide consistent comfort and calm when a child is experiencing a ‘big’ feeling that overwhelms him, he really needs an adult to help him to calm down. As we have learnt more about the brain, we find that it is vital that children are helped with their intense feelings of anger, frustration, and distress. If however, you were left in childhood to manage your painful feelings on your own, it may not come naturally to offer the empathy you never received.

What can you do to help your child?

Take it seriously & show you understand i.e. ‘I know you don’t want to put your shoes on honey….’

Show empathy & acknowledge their feeling

Empathy is trying to stand in your child’s shoes and feel what they are feeling for example, they may want to eat the sweet that fell on the street. ‘You wanted that sweet pet; you’re cross it fell on the street & you’d want to still eat it; even if it’s dirty, I know that’s not easy losing your last sweet, you poor boy’.

Physically soothe them

Reach out to them with a silent hug to communicate that you know they are sad

When they feel understood and listened to, it takes the intensity out of their feelings

Stay calm yet offer clear boundaries

Offering Choices can be helpful as it gives the child something to think about and they feel they have some decision and power. If you have to say No, ensure its clear and firm said with kindness.

The child is always more important than the behavior

‘I love you, but that behaviour is not okay’ means we separate the child from their behaviour. Too often we confuse our children with their difficult behaviours and the child feels they are only loved when they get it right, or when they are good or quiet.

‘I can’t let you eat that sweet off the street that is dirty, but I can give you a piggy back’

‘I hear you are upset; but I cannot talk to you until you calm down’

And finally, never ever underestimate the power of using Humour and Distraction early on.

Do not reward attention seeking behaviour with attention

The more you reward bad behaviour with attention, the more attention seeking they will engage in. Therefore, go on about your tasks (unless the child is distressed in which case you console) until the behaviour improves, and the moment it improves gives their good behaviour, positive attention. The more we ‘catch them being good’ the more good behavior we will get.

What causes the behavior?

Often it is simply Boredom, Frustration or Disappointment. Therefore in the supermarket give your child interesting tasks and activities. Acknowledging their feelings when they are frustrated does help ‘It is hard to share your toys, isn’t it? You had just begun with your tractor; when she came and took it’.

Be Proactive not Reactive in Parenting

So often, if we have a heart to ‘hold’ their feelings and the head to understand what is going on for them, we respond proactively with warmth they need and they respond more positively, than when we react a little harshly.

by Cuidiu breastfeeding counsellor Carmen Stara

Claire has 3 beautiful girls all delivered by Caesarean section in UCHG. Her first was an emergency section, her second was performed as she was 10 days overdue and having had a previous section, the obstetrician wouldn’t induce her and the birth of her third daughter, Grace, was an elective section performed at 38.5 weeks. She had hoped to have a VBAC on her second pregnancy, but scans showed that her pelvic cavity wouldn’t have been able to accommodate a vaginal delivery with the girls’ heads all measuring on the 97% percentile. So in Claire’s case, caesarean was the only option. Claire went on to feed all three of her girls until they were 1 year old. When asked what she attributes her breastfeeding success to, she highlighted the following:

a)     Being very motivated to breastfeed, particularly after finding out that her eldest daughter had a congenital condition diagnosed when she was 9 days old.

b)    Having excellent support from one particular Australian midwife in the hospital and a very supportive public health nurse who helped with any breastfeeding issues during her home visits in the early weeks.

c)     Having the support of her husband who is very pro-breastfeeding

d)    Having a good supply and found it very reassuring that the girls all gained weight very quickly.

Fortunately Claire was able to breastfeed almost immediately after the delivery and all 3 girls latched well from the outset. She didn’t notice any lethargy or difficulty latching as a result of the spinal anesthesia or pain relief she received. Claire fed on demand, and this encouraged her milk to come in at the end of day three, which is quite early for a Caesarean birth. As with all Caesarean deliveries, she had to position the babies away from the scar. One such position, shown to her by one of the midwives, was to place the baby on its side on the bed, while Claire pulled up a chair to the bedside, facing the baby and latched her on. This allowed her to feed without having to hold the baby constantly. She also used a breastfeeding cushion to cover the scar. Fortunately, in her case, her scar healed very quickly, so it didn’t prove to be a barrier when feeding or cause her any undue discomfort.

Claire overcame surgery, postpartum hemorrhaging, jaundice and still fed very successfully, which shows that regardless of the mode of delivery, the mother’s motivation to breastfeed is the main determining factor in whether they persist and go on to enjoy a happy breastfeeding relationship with their baby.

In many ways, Claire’s story is quite unique. With some 27% of Irish births being performed by Caesarean section, the repercussions of surgical delivery and its impact on breastfeeding, is something that thousands of women have to deal with each year. Unfortunately, research indicates that after a caesarean, fewer women initiate breastfeeding at all or give up with the first month. Di Matteo (1996) Perez-Escamilla (1996) Weiderpass (1998) and Dewey (2001) all show that women who had a caesarean had lower breastfeeding rates. Although many women may plan to “try” breastfeeding, they often feel physically and emotionally exhausted after a Caesarean, or groggy from medication and change their minds.

While there are certainly a few additional challenges to getting breastfeeding established after a section, it is absolutely possible and indeed preferable for these mums to breastfeed their babies. In fact there are some specific advantages to breastfeeding after a Caesarean.

i.            The babies’ sucking stimulates the mother’s uterus to contract more quickly and speeds healing.

ii.            Breastfeeding will create a bond between mother and baby

iii.            It can help the mother feel competent and whole, especially in the case of an emergency Caesarean section, where she may feel like she wasn’t in control of the birth.

The uterine contractions that accompany breastfeeding help accelerate healing. A study by Negishi (1999) found that caesarean mothers tended to have larger uteri at one month postpartum than mothers who had had a vaginal birth. So uterine involution may be of special concern to women who have had Caesareans.  Furthermore they also found that by 3 months postpartum, mothers who were breastfeeding 80% or more per day, had smaller uteri that those who breastfed 2% or less per day. So breastfeeding strongly aids uterine involution.

Breastfeeding can bring mother and her baby emotionally closer and help with the bonding process. This can be of particular benefit following a traumatic birth or if the mother and baby were separated after the delivery. If the mother isn’t able to hold her baby due to medical interventions, then the partner / father can provide some valuable skin to skin until the mother is well enough. Research from Sweden show that a father can soothe his newborn as effectively as a mother and more  effectively than if just placed in a crib during the first two hours after birth. Father – baby skin to skin also facilitates the newborn’s “pre-feeding” behavior of seeking the breast. The development of nursing reflexes such as mouth movements and rooting is similar to that of infants who have skin to skin contact with the mother. This makes the child fully prepared for the first breastfeeding when reunited with the mother.

Caesareans births have been associated with delayed lactogenisis with many women’s milk only coming in between days 4 – 6.  Breastfeeding the baby as soon as possible after the birth ensures that all the hormonal processes involved in milk supply are activated. Research indicates that the optimal timeframe is within the first hour after birth. Early and frequent feeding, positively impacts on the production of oxytocin and prolactin, which are needed as part of the milk ejection process. Babies who were fed early and often had longer periods of milk ejection than those who were started later. Establishing early feeding also increases the probability of Caesarean born infants of being breast fed for longer. (Sozmen).

Having a Caesarean can affect how a mother feels about herself and her baby. She may feel upset or cheated out of the birth experience she wanted, particularly with unplanned sections. The mother can also feel emotionally detached from the baby if she was unconscious during the delivery and if the labour was curtailed, so too are the hormones that are produced to help with that bonding.  Having time to do lots of skin to skin contact and just get to know the baby, what the smell and feel like, having a bath together or caressing them will help build a nurturing bond. It will help with getting them to latch, which they may have difficulty doing especially after a traumatic birth. The sense of empowerment that comes from being able to breastfeed and sustain your baby will help make the mother feel competent and will build her confidence.

Medications

Medications given to the mother during labour or during the Caesaeren can have implications for breastfeeding. For example several studies have found that breastfeeding rates are significantly higher after regional anaesthesia i.e. epidural or spinal than after a general anaesthetic. This could be due to a number of causes, but one reason could be faster bonding because the mother is alert and awake. Under general anaesthetic the mother often feels groggy and out of it and not inclined to feed or may delay feeding. General anaesthesia also affects the baby by depressing their responses and rooting reflexes for some time and by making them more lethargic. It could mean that they are more disinterested in feeding or that they’re less efficient at emptying the breast. There is even some evidence to suggest that regional anaesthetic like epidurals affect the newborn by making their movements more disorganized. In a recent study, 100% of babies of non-medicated mothers initiated instinctive breastfeeding behaviours and successfully self-attached and suckled. In the group whose mothers received the epidurals less than 33% of them self-attached and fed. Even IV fluids can make both the mother and babies glucose levels abnormally high and can lead to hypoglycemia in the baby. In the mother, all the additional fluids can lead to an overload and cause engorgement. This is turn can make it more challenging for the baby to latch. Even antibiotics which are sometimes prescribed if the mother is recovering from a post-op infection can leave her and consequentially the baby, prone to thrush.

Positioning

After a Caesarean, most mothers find it difficult to find a comfortable feeding position. As well as the scar, they may have an IV line in their arm which can make movement awkward and uncomfortable. There are a few positions that are helpful for the C-section mum:

i.            The football or clutch hold – where the mother sits upright with the baby facing her breast and with his body along the mother’s side. A pillow is useful to support the baby so they’re almost sitting up. One advantage of this hold is the baby approaches the breast from underneath and so is more likely to get a more of the areola and a deep latch.

ii.            Side lying – where both mum and baby lie on their sides facing each other.

iii.            The cradle hold with the support of a pillow so the scar is protected. The baby lies horizontally chest to chest to with the mother.

iv.            The position used by Claire, where baby is lying on its side on a bed and the mother sits in a chair facing the bed. The bed should be at the height of the mother’s chest. This way the mother doesn’t have to hold the baby and in this position, is more likely to sit upright and have good posture, rather than hunched over the baby putting strain on the shoulders and neck. There are endless variations and holds but the important thing is that the baby gets a good latch for efficient milk transfer and that both mum and baby are comfortable.

Conclusion

Caesareans are an increasing trend worldwide despite the WHO recommendation that it should not account for more than 10% – 15% of all births. Therefore mums need to be aware of how a section will impact them and their babies, particularly if they hope to breastfeed. Despite some challenges, if the mother is informed and determined then there is no reason why they won’t be able to successfully nurse their babies. Peer support groups and breastfeeding counselors can play an important role. If the mother attends such a group during pregnancy, she can get information and share anecdotal information with other mums that may have attended the same hospitals about what the local practices and procedures in their maternity units are. Once the baby arrives, Caesarean section mums, do need some extra help and support from lactation consultants and the midwives in the hospital. As C-section mums tend to be hospitalized on average 4 -5 days for recovery, they are even more dependent on the hospital staff to provide practical assistance with positioning; lifting the baby and even the mother’s general mobility is affected. But just as importantly, they need to provide the environment and the encouragement, which will ensure that they are still breastfeeding upon discharge and for months or years beyond.

It doesn’t get much easier than this……….

350g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

250g caster sugar

zest of 2 lemons

250ml natural yoghurt

5 large eggs

250ml sunflower oil

1 or 2 punnets of raspberries

and For the lemon drizzle, 200g icing sugar and juice of 2 lemons

  • Pre-heat oven to 170 degress/gas 3.
  • Line a 23cmx32cm tin.
  • Sieve flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
  • In another bowl mix sugar, eggs, oil, yoghurt and lemon zest with electric mixer. Pour this into flour mixture and mix well.
  • Pour mixture into tin and dot the raspberries over the top.
  • Bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes until goldern brown.
  • Turn out on a wire rack and allow to cool before icing.
  • Whisk together icing sugar and lemon juice and spread over the top (i think the cake is sweet enough without the icing though).

 

 

by Caoimhe Whelan

Our second son Lorcan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last September when he was just 13 months old. It was a huge shock to my husband and myself, despite the fact that there is a history of type 1 diabetes in my family (my father and one of his sisters had it). I breastfed Lorcan and he was always a healthy and robust little fella. I certainly never expected him to get diabetes, or any other serious illness for that matter.

Type 1 diabetes is insulin-dependent, meaning that treatment with insulin is necessary from the time the disease is first diagnosed. In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed in a process in the body known as “autoimmunity” (ie a process in which the body’s cells attack eachother). This eventually leads to a total loss of insulin production. Without insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and is passed out of the body in the urine without ever reaching the cells in the body.

Unlike type 2 diabetes which isusually related to diet and is preventable, type 1 diabetes is not.

When Lorcan was diagnosed, the doctors could only speculate as to why he got it – one theory was that it might have been caused by a virus. I’ve wondered if there’s something I could have done to prevent it (I think that’s just every parent’s natural response when their child is diagnosed with a serious illness), but I came to the conclusion that it was just plain bad luck on Lorcan’s part (coupled of course with the fact that he was genetically predisposed in the first place). There are lots of theories as to why the rate of type 1 diabetes is higher in Europe and the USA , eg some studies have linked it to drinking coffee during pregnancy, others to drinking cows’ milk, but none of the are conclusive.

So what were the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

Lots of people have asked me this since Lorcan’s diagnosis.  I think all parents, particularly those who are aware of a history of diabetes in their family, should know what the main symptoms of type 1 diabetes are, because the earlier it is diagnosed the earlier it can be treated. The symptoms are:

  • Very Thirsty – Lorcan used to wake in the night and drink half a pint of water. And during the day he always seemed to be looking for a drink.
  • Passing a lot of urine  – in Lorcan’s case we had lots of big sodden nappies and leaks during the night.
  • Lethargy/Weakness -at times Lorcan felt completely lacking in energy, almost like a ragdoll in my arms.
  • Acetone smell off the breath – as soon as I noticed this sweet, acetone smell off Lorcan’s breath alarm bells rang. I immediately suspected the smell was ketones and we decided to bring Lorcan to our local GP. (Ketones are produced by the body when the cells don’t have enough energy and the body starts to break down fat).
  • Weight Loss – This is often a symptom of diabetes but in our case Lorcan was diagnosed relatively early so there was no noticable weight loss.

When we took Lorcan to the doctor, he checked the level of glucose in his blood. It was unusually high, so he gave us a referral for Crumlin A&E and off we went. I couldn’t praise the staff at the hospital more highly. Lorcan was seen within minutes of arriving, and as soon as it was confirmed that he had diabetes he was treated to stabilise him. I then stayed in the hospital with him for 2 nights. During that time my husband tried to absorb the shock of Lorcan’s diagnosis and started learning how to manage Lorcan’s diabetes, ie. give injections, manage his diet and check his blood sugar level. It was a huge learning curve.

It’s still a huge learning curve. Initially I thought we would just go home, just give Lorcan an insulin injection in the morning and that would be that. But unfortunately it’s not that straightforward! Lorcan has to eat meals and snacks at certain times of the day and we have to check his blood sugar level at least 4 – 5 times daily . What we’re trying to do is prevent his blood sugar level getting too high (over time this can have serious health implications) and ensure that Lorcan doesn’t have ‘hypos’, ie a blood sugar level of lower than 5. The worst case scenario with a hypo that is not detected and dealt with is a diabetic coma.

For the first couple of months after the diagnosis I was anxious all the time as I looked after Lorcan and tried to get used to giving him injections, checking his blood sugar, monitoring his diet, and being constantly alert to the possibility of him having a hypo. I remember thinking to myself “so this is what anxiety is”, because I had never actually experienced anything like it before. I just couldn’t relax, and I suppose there was an element of delayed shock and a sense that it might have been something I did that caused the diabetes. There were also lots of tears and times when I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to cope.

But nine months on we’re managing much better and Lorcan is doing great. He’s a happy and healthy toddler. Managing his diabetes has just become part of our lives and we’re feeling so much more confident about it. Last week Lorcan got his new insulin pump – a small electronic device that he will wear, and which will deliver insulin directly into his bloodstream, so no more injections (yay!) and a great deal more freedom in terms of when he eats. We still have a couple more training sessions at the hospital on managing the pump, but we should be up and running with it in a couple of weeks time. Can’t wait :-)

p.s. There is a Private facebook group for parents of children who have type 1 diabetes in Ireland and I have found it immensely helpful and supportive https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/217346238337444/

There’s also The Diabetes Federation of Ireland www.diabetes.ie which has a club for children with diabetes called Sweet peas.

This article was written by Cuidiu DSW member Mary O’Sullivan for the newsletter. With her kind permission we have decided to republish it here:

Our little daughter was born prematurely at 33 weeks.  Describing all that goes with having a premature baby would fill a page of this newsletter all by itself.  But suffice it to say that a common phrase used by parents of premature babies is that it is like an emotional roller coaster.  In our mornings at the PND group I would have described it as like being in a continuous emotional boxing match.  A boxing match that involves watching your baby being immediately whisked away to neo-natal intensive care to begin its journey with wires and tubes all over it as it fights with all its strength to survive.  The journey continues with you and your partner going home without a baby and leaving her behind in the hospital night after night until you finally get to bring her home.   Then begins the journey of isolation where you are told that it is safer not to allow visitors to your house as they pose a risk of infection.  You learn that the common cold can cause bleeds in the bowel and can pose a  very serious threat to the lungs of a premature baby. All of this coupled with our baby being sick for months after she was discharged resulted in me being diagnosed with P.T.S. (Post traumatic stress), a form of post natal depression.

I read about the Cuidiú PND group in their newsletter and to be honest it took me a few weeks to pluck up the courage to ring the number.  Being in a lonely place, I was afraid to tell a complete stranger about my PND, given that many of my family and friends didn’t even know I had it.  But I needn’t have worried.  The phone was answered by a friendly and caring person who encouraged me to come along to the meeting and said there was no pressure to talk.  She assured me that I could just sit and be quiet or chat about the weather or if I wanted to chat about my story I could.  So a week or so later I arrived at Maggie’s house and was greeted by Maggie’s smiling friendly face and invited in to sit and have a coffee with the group.  When a new person joins the group everyone else in the group tells their story. Then at the end the new member can tell their story or ask questions or just sit and listen to the others chatting away.  Before going to the first meeting, I had said to myself that there was no way I was going to chat about how I felt to a group of strangers.  But as every one of the girls told their stories I realised I could relate to all or part of each of their stories and I began to feel less alone.  Having listened to their stories I decided I would say a few short words about my story and then keep quiet.

But instead what happened surprised me, as because of the warm and safe environment I found myself in, for the first time since my daughter was born I told my story and really said how I was feeling.  The warmth and encouragement I got from the women after doing this was so genuine and my heart lifted as I knew I had found somewhere where I could describe how I felt and no one would judge me or look at me shocked.  Somewhere where you could cry or rant or just be quiet and know you were understood.

As I continued to go to the meetings I realised that one thing that is great about the group is that there are women there who are all at different stages of PND, some who have just been diagnosed, others who are recovering and others who have recovered. Therefore no matter where you are on the journey you will find someone in the group who knows exactly where you are at and when you ask questions about that stage they will be able to relate to your questions and help to put you at ease.

Two years later I still go to the group. Why? Because the group of women have become a group of friends I know I can trust and who see me for what I am, I am still, and always have been Mary.  They know that PND is not something to be feared, it is an illness like any other illness.  I remember once being told, “if you broke your arm you would get help and if you had to take a pain killer tablet you would, wouldn’t you? Then if you need something to sort out PND (be it counselling or medication etc.), then isn’t it the same thing?  After all, PND is just another illness that anyone can get and that you can recover fully from”.  I know in my case, it has made me a stronger person and has gained me a great set of friends in the PND group.

P.S. we also meet up at other times and go for coffee, a drink, a meal or to Dundrum to shop – in other words we can have good fun together too!

Cuidiú DSW runs a Postnatal Depression support meeting on the first Friday of the month, from 10am to 12pm. The meetings are aimed at anyone who has experienced PND. For more information phone Clare on  on (086) 8141291 or see our website http://www.cuidiudsw.ie/pnd-support/