Kavita Trevena talks about her traumatic experience of birth and why she’s supporting our #HiddenHalf campaign to get postnatal mental illness out of hiding
When I got pregnant on my honeymoon, it was an unexpected shock. I was told as a teenager that it was unlikely that I’d have children. During my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes but I had good support and care. I did an NCT antenatal course and I made some lovely friends.
When it came to labour, everything changed. I ended up having an emergency caesarean, which was a traumatic experience. I came out of hospital two days later and felt really overwhelmed, lonely and vulnerable. I couldn't do anything for myself and I couldn't hold my baby without feeling pain. Breastfeeding wasn't going well either.
At the worst points, I was crying a lot, argumentative and shouty. I rejected my son in a way because I’d hold him but then I didn’t want to hold him. Sometimes I couldn't deal with his crying and had to walk away.
My health visitor from Bromley Health Care came to see me about 10 days after the birth. She referred me to a specialist who suggested a pilot treatment programme. This really helped me. I saw a nurse practitioner at my 6-8 week postnatal check and when she asked if I had the 'baby blues', I told her I was having counselling. She replied: “I'm sure you'll get over it”.
I felt dismissed and it put me off seeing a doctor for a while afterwards. When my son was 10 months old, I told my health visitor I was anxious about returning to work. I was referred to the treatment programme again and given two extra sessions. I also self-referred myself to MIND, the mental health charity.
Sharing my story to support others
Today I feel 100% better. And I am incredibly humbled to have the privilege to help raise awareness about NCT’s #HiddenHalf campaign and share a message about the importance of postnatal care.
NCT has given me the opportunity to share my story. Last week, I was on BBC Woman’s Hour (see image below) and Channel 5 news talking about the #HiddenHalf and the six-week postnatal check (or lack of).
My experience, like many others, wasn't a positive one. And it’s important to get that message across. I’m hoping that with NCT’s campaign and my blog, I can really make a difference for new mums and dads.
How can you support our #HiddenHalf campaign?
Please join us and Kavita to get postnatal mental illness out of hiding. We're demanding dedicated postnatal check-ups so all new mothers can get the mental health support they need. Email your MP today and help us make this change.