A mum said considered ending her life after struggling with mental health issues during her pregnancy and after giving birth.

As part of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (May 1 to 7), mum Jenny wants to reassure new parents it’s okay to ask for help, as one in five women in the UK experience a mental health condition during and after pregnancy.

Before becoming a parent Jenny said she was an outgoing confident person, working for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, publicly speaking in parliament, and enjoying a 'hectic social life'.

However, when she fell pregnant in 2021, her mental health began to deteriorate.

She said: “During pregnancy is when I first noticed my heightened anxiety, my anxiety presents with physical symptoms including sickness, diarrhoea, palpitations, feeling teary and overwhelmed and heightened senses. 

“I’m registered blind and use a guide dog so having to use crutches due to my pelvic pain was an added complication.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Jenny and TheadoraJenny and Theadora (Image: LSCft)

Jenny’s daughter, Theadora was born via emergency C-section in May 2022, and there were concerns regarding Theadora’s heart rate during labour, and Jenny was too anxious to sleep for the first few weeks.

Jenny, from Great Harwood, suffered a panic attack on the bus one day which is when she finally decided to reach out to her GP and health visitor for help and was referred to the LSCft perinatal team.

Jenny said: “I was terrified to ask for help, especially being a disabled parent.

"I was worried someone was going to take Theadora away from me as they would think I couldn’t cope, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“The team reassured me it was okay to need some additional support with my mental health and they would help me to start feeling more myself."

Jenny suffered with intrusive thoughts of Theadora coming to harm, regular panic attacks and wouldn’t leave her with anyone else, including her husband, which put a strain on relationships with her husband, family and friends.

Jenny reached out to the crisis team and explained how she had started to plan and think about how she would take her own life as she felt like she couldn’t keep her baby safe anymore and the feelings of self-doubt were uncontrollable.

After this call in October 2022, Jenny was admitted to Ribblemere, the LSCft Mother and Baby Unit at Chorley Hospital, an eight-bed, inpatient facility for women and their babies, when a mother is suffering from a mental health problem.

Staffed by teams across psychiatry, nursing and nursery care, Ribblemere offers treatment and recovery for mothers whilst remaining alongside their babies allowing their relationships with their babies to develop.

Jenny said: “It felt liberating to know you weren’t being judged, you could be completely honest and knew everyone was there to help you."

After spending 14 weeks at Ribblemere, where she had psychology lessons and therapy sessions, Jenny was discharged at the start of 2023.

Robyn Catlow, team manager at the Mum and Baby Unit, LSCFT said: “Our staff aim to offer tailored care for every family who come in to us, and we hope by working closely with mums to personalise care plans that we pick up any adjustments or additional support requirements quickly.

“We managed to accommodate Jenny’s guide dog at times on the ward, and because of this we learnt a lot about how we can support people with visual impairments in the future.”

Jenny is still receiving care in the community but will be officially discharged from Ribblemere in the next few weeks when they celebrate Theadora’s first birthday.

Jenny added: “I want something positive to come out of my experiences. I want to reassure people it is okay to not be okay and to ask for help, you don’t need to wear a mask if you’re struggling.

“My recovery felt it really started when I returned home and I was able to put into practice all the mechanisms I was given whilst at Ribblemere.

“I’m excited for my future and I can’t wait to celebrate my beautiful little girl’s first birthday.”