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Maternal Suicide Awareness

Whilst the suicide rates for men is three quarters higher than women, my experiences during childhood shaped my understanding of maternal wellbeing and mental health.  I also suffered with post natal depression for 18 months five years ago.

I’m originally from Kent and when I was around nine years old during one of my mums struggles with her mental health, I heard her telling my Dad after being missing all day that she had been to Rochester Bridge, and was thinking about jumping.  Luckily she didn’t.

Then fast forward a couple of years and I’m 11 years old, my mum was mostly in hospital due to her mental health around this time, I hadn’t long been at secondary school and my aunt had been staying with us a lot to help out.  When my aunt needed to go back home for a bit my mum was out of hospital for a couple of days to see how she got on.  My brother and I were watching TV after school but I suddenly felt I should check on my mum, my dad was still at work.  I caught her in the kitchen holding a knife to her wrist.  So I told her to let me have the knife and go upstairs to lie down, when she did I started looking for every sharp thing I could find and hid them behind a chair in our front room.  When I went to check on my mum instead of finding her lying down like I’d suggested, she was trying to tie an extension lead cable around her neck.  I shouted at her and told her to stop, took it out of her hands and made her lay down and rest.
It could’ve been so different.  For people touched by events like this, or to have experienced the worst case scenario we know how crucial it is to have support and services available to help those suffering with their mental health.  

Official figures state that the maternal death rate is one in eleven in the UK during and up to 6 weeks after pregnancy due to a psychiatric cause.  A quarter of late maternal deaths are by suicide and can be linked to post natal depression.  Actual figures for PND vary according to sources, from one in five, to one in four, some mothers don’t seek help so the figures are suspected to be higher than records show.  If we were to look more into maternal services and what’s available to women postnatally there is still not enough support for new mothers.

However, there are positive changes, there is far more awareness and less stigma regarding mental health than there was around 30 years ago and there is far more awareness around the importance of taking care of our mental wellbeing.

Through my work with women in pregnancy and postnatally I intend to keep raising awareness about maternal wellbeing.  I would like women to feel supported whether they need it or not, I want women to know it’s ok not to be ok, it’s ok that sometimes motherhood is tough and that if you need it it’s crucial to seek help for yourself. 

I offer various pre and postnatal services to women and have a created a positive community #Mothers Supporting Mothers Movement.  I also provide one to one Birth Trauma Recovery for women that still suffer after their birth with symptoms of post traumatic stress.  This can be a trigger for PND and the symptoms that come with that, including in some cases maternal suicide.  

I may not always be the right person to help however I see myself as able to signpost women to services that they may not be aware of that are available to support them,  I’m honest and open about my own struggles with PND and motherhood in general and the more I share the more others share too.  It lightens the load we carry with us.  If you have any mental health issues I urge you to reach out to people you know will listen.  Whilst every situation is different, if you’re unwell then I also want you to know you can get better and there is always hope.


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Forgiveness in Motherhood

I often remind mothers that we should forgive ourselves quickly and move on.  We are always doing the best we can with the ability and knowledge we have at that moment and often we are showing up in the only way we can at that time.  We expect far too much of ourselves, we expect as soon as we become mothers that we’ll become this nurturing, all knowing, full of patience and the right words to say kind of mother – you know just like in the feel good family films? 

Or maybe that’s just me, I have this expectation of what I should be like as a mother, it’s often been to be the opposite of my own mum.  I’m doing pretty well, however I still have this unrealistic benchmark, or perhaps the holy grail of the perfectly balanced mother, loving and firm, fun and serious.  I can see other mums doing the same, I try to tell mothers how well they’re doing because I can see it, the strength, the connection, managing on a daily basis! I admire lots of mothers all for different reasons, we can learn so much from each other without getting stuck in the comparison trap.

I’ve just realised however that although I forgive myself quickly for little things, when something throws the family dynamic, a phase one of my boys is going through I am straight to thinking “What should I do? or What have I done or not done to create this situation? Why is this happening and what should I have done to avoid it happening?!”  

I wonder how many other mothers do the same?

I immerse myself in trying to trace back why a child of mine has behaved in a certain way, I over analyse, I critique what I’m teaching my children.  Other days I’ll be honest I can feel myself doing an inner high five when they do something that make me proud.  I realise I’m doing ok, we have good values and morals and core beliefs at the centre of our home life.  I feel we’re raising our children to be conscious about the planet, community, kindness and happiness.  


Going back to forgiveness, today I’ve taken a step back thanks to a very valuable chat.  I’ve come to realise I’ve not forgiven myself for the stubbornness and the pride in not seeking help after my eldest was born.  I struggled on for 18 months determined not to be like my mum who has struggled for a long time with her mental health.  Determined not to go to the doctor and to have on eye records that I had PND (Post Natal Depression), determined not to put chemicals into my body.  As if seeking help was weak!  When actually it’s one of the biggest signs of strength.

As a result of my PND I put my husband through a lot and I’d not accepted motherhood and that I was a mother.  I apologised to my husband when I was coming out the other side of PND, he was surprised and not expecting this. I feel that inside I am often apologising to my eldest son, I’m very sensitive to his feelings. I probably overcompensate sometimes. I forgive myself for this.

There’s a lot to unpack here but I want to forgive myself for the disconnect I had with my son for his first years, I’m sorry I decided I couldn’t be a mother and that I would get back to work as soon as possible, take a promotion and go back full time because I felt I had nothing to offer him, I’m sorry I felt unable to accept my role as mother.  I’m sorry I felt I was better at my job then rather than being a mother.  I’m sorry that until now I’ve carried this with me and not let it go.  

I’m sorry I came close to walking out on my husband and my son when he was 18 months old.  I’m sorry that this has sat with me for such a long time and that I’ve doubted my abilities as a mum.  I’m sorry that I haven’t recognised all the things I have done right and I’m doing right.  I’m sorry I had this expectation on myself that is totally unrealistic – I have no way of being this mythical mother.  No mother is perfect, we’re human!

My sons have both chosen me for this life and I am blessed.  I have so much to learn from them because as I’ve said before they are my teacher as much as I am theirs.

As I forgive myself for holding onto the belief that I am not good enough, perhaps you can find something you need to let go of too.Let go of that unhelpful message you have going on in a loop in your mind! 

Holding onto these old patterns and beliefs isn’t the way forward to help me be the mother I need to be for my children, I’ll just be carrying around stuff that isn’t for my highest self and if I hold onto the story I’ve told myself about who I am as a mother I cannot move forward as a woman and human aspiring to reach higher.  How can I set an example to my children that sometimes things happen, sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we aren’t the best version of ourselves and let them know that’s ok.  That all of these experiences help brings to light who we really are and who we want to be, we can learn and grow if we don’t hold onto these limiting beliefs about ourselves and what we’re capable of. I want my children to soar! I want them to have self belief and so this cycle I’m in has to stop so it doesn’t pass on to them.

I am proud of all that my experience has taught me in the last six years, where it has brought me in terms of my career and giving back to women and our community, rediscovering so much that women have lost that I want to invite back in. It still teaches me now, new layers I hadn’t realised were there and needed shedding. These are my lessons to pass on and help others.

For now though, with the help of the Ho’oponopono prayer which I say to myself.

  • I’m sorry
  • Please forgive me
  • Thank you
  • I love you

Much love xx