Perinatal Mental Health
Eva’s Case Study
Eva miscarried at four months in 2016. After attending talking and group therapy, she and her partner felt mentally ready to try again for a baby – but, then pregnant in 2020 during the pandemic, she found fear overtook her. Alongside a lack of certainty if her child was going to make it full term, she was completely isolated, and unable to talk to her husband about how she felt.
Eva is 39 years old, and the mother of Zuzana and Lenka. Now 9 months old, Lenka was born in 2021 while the UK was in partial lockdown.
During the lead up to Lenka’s birth, like 1 in 5 mothers, Eva experienced mental health issues during the perinatal period.
Eva talks to us about experiencing miscarriage, the fraught experience of pregnancy during a global crisis, and the moment she finally decided to seek help.
“I was four months into my first pregnancy when I miscarried. It threw my emotional wellbeing completely – I was not okay. I didn’t know where to look for help.
“Miscarriage affects how you see the world.”
I was envious of other pregnant women and when a friend of mine told me she was pregnant, I found I couldn’t even see her. We really wanted a baby, so we kept trying despite the loss. When I finally fell pregnant with Zuzana (my eldest child). The fears hadn’t gone away, but in fact got so much worse knowing it could happen again. I knew there were support groups available for mums who had previously lost a baby, and I started attending to try to ward off my worries.
When Zuzana was born, it felt like a closed chapter. The support group had helped, Zuzana was born without any problems.
In lockdown, I fell pregnant again (with Lenka). In my third trimester, I started having night terrors - woken by visions of a stillborn child, or nightmares in which I would die while giving birth. The lockdown meant that the support group I had used before to help me during my last pregnancy was unable to meet.
“I was completely alone”
It was putting pressure on my family as a whole
– my husband and my baby Zuzana. We argued
- when I was upset or struggling, I’d snap at him,
not knowing what the root cause was.
During a regular check-up with the midwife, I mentioned I was having bad dreams. She recommended therapy again – and my GP recommended the SilverCloud® platform, a digital CBT website. I was really anxious all the way through to the end of my pregnancy
Being pregnant in a pandemic was terrifying. Not only was I petrified of losing my baby, COVID added to my fears.
The prospect of having to go into a hospital during the pandemic was overwhelming. Despite it being my midwife’s day off, she drove to my house in Reading to help me give birth at home.
“It helped me be a better partner”
The experience of my miscarriage still lingers with me. I think sometimes I maybe a bit overprotective of my children as a result. But I’m aware of it and know what to do when things get out of balance and return to SilverCloud® programmes for this!
"As a result of my experience, I was able to point one of my friends who was experiencing mental health problems following the birth of her son to her GP to seek help. I told her about my story, how much SilverCloud® programmes had helped. I told her not to feel ashamed and to seek help. To all mums who feel this way, my best advice is to seek help if you need to. When you’re in physical pain, you’d call a GP to get help – it should be the same with mental health."
Using SilverCloud® programmes really helped me. It also helped in terms of my relationship with my partner. It gave me the words I needed to explain to him how I was feeling, how I wasn’t coping, and it helped him understand that this was something that happened not only to me, but to other women too.
He understands how important getting time to work through my emotions and feelings is and so looks after the children so that I can take time out for CBT or simply take a bath.