When the UK went into lockdown for the Covid pandemic in March 2020, services were halted and support for new mums became extremely limited. With many new parents already struggling with loneliness and isolation, this was only exacerbated. One in five mums face maternal mental health challenges. Kirsty was one of them, this is her story.  

Kirsty Cowan gave birth to her second baby just three days before the country went into lockdown and was supported by Home-Start when she began to struggle.

With a teenage daughter already, Kirsty saw the huge difference in postnatal support which suddenly wasn’t available – from structured services to family, friends and local mums and tots groups.

Kirsty said: “It was so strange. All the support I expected suddenly wasn’t there. My partner had taken leave to be with us at home, my teenage daughter was home schooling and I was on the adrenalin high you get after having a baby.

I felt totally lost

“But after four weeks, when my partner went back to work, I was suddenly on my own, unable to see family or friends. None of my friends had babies as I was an older second time mum, it felt really isolating. I started to go downhill. I forgot everything from first time round and felt totally lost.

“There’s so many things going on when you have a baby, especially a Covid baby, that your joy can easily get lost. Home-Start helped get that joy back.

“Home Start will always be special for me. They picked me up and supported me when I most needed it. Home-Start felt safe, secure and didn’t judge.”

Luckily, Kirsty’s health visitor noticed she wasn’t OK and referred her to Home-Start West Berkshire where she attended Home-Start postnatal depression Zoom classes then switched to the perinatal support group. 

“I began the postnatal support group on Zoom and although strange at first, it was good to see other mums and know I wasn’t alone. We shared our experiences, laughed and cried, but most importantly we connected with each other and built important friendships. I looked forward to seeing them all every week. It became a lifeline to me.

“One of the Home-Start group leaders is a trained counsellor so she would often check in with me after the session to make sure I was OK. That feeling of knowing somebody cared meant a lot.

“When lockdowns lifted we eventually made it to a group in person. I felt really connected to these people. We had so much commonality, we all had various levels of post-natal depression. We understood each other and lifted each other up. It became a really special group with people I am still friends with.

It’s a big fear admitting we are struggling

“Home-Start said and did the right things at the right time to get me through a really difficult time. It’s a big fear admitting we are struggling.”

Without Home-Start support Kirsty fears her depression would have deepened over time and she may not have been able to see she needed help.

“I became so used to shutting down and keeping going that I would have got to a very dark place without Home-Start. The ability to connect with other people was crucial. Home-Start was an absolute lifeline.”

Following the support she received, Kirsty has some advice to other mums. She says:

Please reach out. Home-Start knows how it feels. They help and support every step of the way. Support floods in once you ask. You just have to be confident to take the first step.”

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