Mental health, pregnancy and the NHS
17 years ago I was diagnosed with “social anxiety and panic disorder with depression”. It’s a mouthful, with no cool acronym for me to declare. As the years went by, with the support of friends and family, with online groups, cognitive behavior therapy and yes, even medication, things improved. I no longer needed medication, I ran my own business, I met my husband online, and after 9 years of marriage we found ourselves pregnant after infertility, but that anxiety and panic disorder would always be there, lurking in the background – under control, but at times of great stress it would rear its ugly head. I talk about this a bit more here! I told the midwife this on the booking appointment. I wrote it in big letters in my medical history. I ticked all the boxes. I talked to her extensively about my medical history and my fears. Throughout the pregnancy I told various midwives the same story (I saw many, it was a rotating practice). I emphasised that I was getting more and more anxious as the pregnancy went on, that I was terrified of being on the wards, that I was scared I wouldn’t cope. I was reassured every step of the way and told that they had both pre and postnatal mental health teams. But I never actually saw anyone and was not offered any additional appointments. On the day of my induction I was simply going in for a regular checkup. I was told I had pre-eclampysia and the baby would be induced TODAY. Right now. I didn’t even get given the option to go home and get my things. This shit was going down. I had a complete panic attack and I actually refused the induction for several hours. I was sitting on the ward where they had rushed me sobbing with my husband next to me telling them I couldn’t do it. The induction ward was shared. I was surrounded by other women and their families – many of them in pain and ramping up to active labour. I said I could not make it mentally in this environment. They promised me as soon as my labour was started I’d be in a private room and that they’d do everything in their power to get me a private room in recovery. For three days of induction I didn’t sleep. 12 hours after my waters had broken they finally had a room for me. A nice private room to labour in, don’t worry, good luck and they waved me off, probably glad to be free of the weird old sobbing lady and her anxious husband. It was indeed a nice private room to labour in, all the mod cons and a beautiful view over the car park. You can read about my birth story here if you want more details. Needless to say it didn’t go that well, because I found myself recovering from an emergency csection 12 hours later. But it was over. I had my baby. My little miracle baby after so many years of trying. I was over the moon. I was also broken, both physically and mentally exhausted. A csection meant I’d be in a bit longer, but I was already counting down the hours. “2-3 days usually for csections” they reassured me. Okay. Cool. I can sit in my room for 2-3 days. I can do this!