Mums Mind NI | Dee NicConaill Óig

My name is Dee, I’m 29 and in my final year of University studying Mental Health Nursing. I’m from Northern Ireland. I like Grey’s Anatomy, Chocolate and longggg lie-ins (when I can get them!)

It all started with beginning my nurse training. I had a placement with a Health Visitor and from then I was hooked.  ‘How’s the mood?’ ‘Awk, Good Yeah!’ If I heard that 30 times a day I heard it in my sleep too. All I could think was , If I were struggling with a new-born, my health visitor came out and asked me how my mood was, I’m not going to tell her that actually I had been getting thoughts  of smothering my baby – or walking out and never coming back. Or that I felt numb. Or that I fantasised about stabbing my husband because he slept through the night feeds again.

All of which are common thoughts and feelings, some of which indicate an issue with mood.

And that’s the thing. Women are too afraid to speak out. To say the thoughts and feelings out loud for fear of being labelled mad or getting the baby taken away.

Even though Post Natal Anxiety/Depression/OCD affect hundreds of women – AND IT IS TREATABLE.

Soon after my experience with the Health Visitor, a dear friend of mine got pregnant with her first child. Unfortunately, she did not have a great time. Plagued by low mood, no ‘rush’ of love when she saw the baby for the first time.. Just no identifiable emotions either way. She looked after her daughter and met all her needs but she just felt.. Ambivalent. It wasn’t until after a discussion with her GP she began CBT and started medication did she pick up and realised just how unwell she had been before.

That got me thinking. What if this had been identified earlier? Could she have prevented her mood getting as low as it did? What effect would social or peer support have had?

Alternatively, What if her GP hadn’t been so understanding? If she had not got the help she needed? There may have been a very different (maybe tragic) ending to her story.

What does it mean?

Working within Mental Health I have seen how perinatal issues often impact the entire family years down the line. Studies have shown that impaired attachment, left unchecked can lead to lots of problems including behaviour and personality issues. I believe early detection and treatment along with supporting mum (and Dad) these things can be avoided.

What’s going on?

Between 10% and 20% of women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth (referred to as the ‘perinatal period’).

Women in NI have very limited access to specialist perinatal mental health services. The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is the only trust in Northern Ireland which provides small scale specialist perinatal mental health services. There is no regional Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) inpatient provision in Northern Ireland or on the island of Ireland. This means that if a woman does need inpatient care, she is separated from her baby for the duration – not only affecting attachment and bonding but also not allowing mum to realistically prepare for going home again.

What are my goals?

  • To increase awareness or Perinatal Mental Health and encourage more women top seek help earlier.
  • To support the implementation of Perinatal Mental Health services province-wide.
  • Professionally, I would like to work within the services and help women navigate the perinatal period while highlighting and promoting recovery as a very real option along with promoting healthy attachment and positive management of symptoms.
  • To have an online space where women can go for sound advice and peer support regarding mental health in the Ante and postnatal periods.

Where can you find me?

‘Mums Mind Mental Health’   on Facebook here: