The power of connection is at the heart of Home-Start’s work making it fitting that it’s the theme for this year’s Maternal Mental Health Week.

#ThePowerOfConnection campaign is an opportunity to talk about mental health problems during and after pregnancy and a chance for us as a charity to raise awareness of our work, while advocating for mums to get the information, care and support they need to recover.

According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance report mental health problems in the perinatal period affect 1 in 5 women

Home-Starts across the UK are raising awareness for Maternal Mental Health Week in their communities, showing that in addition to clinical services, vital peer support is available in their area through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers as well as a wide range of Home Start projects like mums and tots group, Mothers in Mind sessions, Steps to Excellence programmes and buggy walks.

Our Home-Start survey Home Is Where We Start From shows that 91% of parents who received support said Home Start made a positive difference to family life. 

Alex Corgier, Perinatal Lead for Home-Start UK, said: “We understand the value of face to face connections. Reaching out for support either to family and friends, a professional such as your midwife or health visitor, or getting in touch with a local community organisation like Home-Start could be the first step to make a positive difference. Meantime, we want to remind mums to remember they are brilliant, remind them to take breaks, remember self-care, know that parenting is tough and most of all remember that parenting is not always the picture perfect lifestyle often portrayed on social media.”

Sarah Williams, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Lead, at Home-Start Scotland, added: “Home-Start harnesses the power of human connection to support families facing mental health challenges in the perinatal period. The excellent support our staff and trained volunteers provide has an amazing impact on families.”

Kirsty’s story of postnatal support connecting her with other mums

Kirsty had a baby three days before the pandemic hit and within a month began to struggle with the isolation of lockdown.

Kirsty attended postnatal depression zoom classes then switched to the perinatal support group and remains in touch with her friends made from the Zoom calls.

“I gave birth to Roman then three days later the country went into lockdown. It was so strange. All the support I expected suddenly wasn’t there. None of my friends had babies as I was an older second time mum. It felt really isolating. I started to go downhill.

“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 West Berkshire helped get that joy back.  

“I attended group Zoom classes with other mums. 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. Home-Start said and did the right things at the right time to get me through a really difficult time.”

Read more of Kirsty’s story

Caroline’s story of going from being supported by Home-Start to becoming a trustee

A children’s centre worker had a chat with Caroline about connecting with Home-Start after spotting her struggling at a mums and tots group. Caroline was there with her eldest son Sean, then four years old, and baby Ryan, three months old.

Caroline was reluctant at first. “My cultural background as a black African woman means we don’t speak out about problems and often find ourselves struggling on our own in silence. But we all have limits and it’s important to recognise them. If you feel things are tough, ask for help.”

Caroline was matched with home-visiting volunteer Janet from Home-Start in Suffolk who became like a second mum and following two years of support was among the inspiration for Caroline to give back and become a Home-Start trustee.

“Looking back I probably had post-natal depression but I didn’t realise it at the time. I didn’t have my mum or family local to me and friends were in London.

“Home-Start support was like taking the weight off your shoulders for a while, so you can be the parent you want to be. Without Home Start I would have fallen into a deep depression. Janet championed me so it is time for me to champion Home-Start as a trustee, to encourage other mums to get help.”

Read more of Caroline’s story

Laura’s story of the emotional roller coaster of baby loss and postnatal depression

Throughout the emotional roller coaster of the toughest times of her life, sprinkled with joy and new hope, Home-Start was standing alongside Laura Milby, her husband David and their girls.

Laura is now an ambassador sharing her story to help others and break down the stigma around talking about mental health.

Laura was the first woman in Scotland to have a liver transplant while pregnant with her second daughter Kate. Sadly, baby Kate died at 37 days old in 2014. Two years later, Laura had her second daughter Emma, a little sister for Sarah, now 12.

 “My eldest daughter Sarah was two years old when my health visitor first referred me to Home-Start Glasgow South as I was suffering postnatal depression.

“At first it was the Mother’s Group. We’d meet for a cup of tea and a chat. The kids would be in the crèche so we could do activities like yoga, crafts, cooking, talks, courses, sewing. It became an important part of my week and I looked forward to it.

“I was then matched with a volunteer who became like a mum. We laugh, if I need a cuddle she is there, the kids love her. Having Home-Start and Liz helped me take each day at a time and see the positives rather than focus on the negatives.

“Home-Start helped me live again. It’s been hugely difficult going through everything I did but thank God I had Home-Start by my side.”

Read more of Laura’s story

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