Maternal Mental Health - Part 2
Article continued from Part 1.
Fast forward 6 years later to October 2019 I gave birth to our third child, another beautiful baby girl. I had her in a birth pool at home in our NYC apartment (we moved from the UK in 2016) , with just my husband and 2 midwives present. It was the most serene experience of my life. It was healing and redemptive on so many levels. I had started this pregnancy with old fears and sorrow resurfacing from both my previous birth stories, but I didn’t want to repeat history so I decided to look for further healing. I found some incredible pregnancy care by local midwives who were pioneering in a type of psychosensory therapy called Havening. It combined talking, and touch therapy to remove fear and trauma while also educating me on things about pregnancy I hadn’t known before. Havening helped me heal, and increased peace in my life. I believe it permanently removed my fear and old stress triggers that were repeating on loops in my mind. During my sessions, I partnered with God, having amazing life-changing encounters with Jesus as the completion of Romans 12:2 was transforming my brain and as my fear left and “perfect love” was replaced.
I kept Isaiah 26:3 close to heart. “You will keep in perfect peace, all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” I had a peaceful birth, experiencing the presence of God with me all the way. I still had some repeated complications after the birth but I had a new pathway, a new foundation. It didn’t knock us, I felt resilient. I was different. So even though I ended up in hospital, it was the closure I needed, fear couldn’t stick and I didn’t experience any trauma. My old triggers had been removed. I had a new hope. I was believing the truth, and the Truth had set me free.
This time round life with a newborn looked different. I knew what my body needed and I took care of it. In the past, I’d let lies, fear and self critique rule my head and my heart and it caused me to not look after my body. This time I’ve had a “fullness of life” experience. Yes sleepless nights and baby cries were present, but anxiety, depression and self-harm were not. Just self love and sound mind remained. I combined all the tools I’d collected over the years, taking thoughts captive, prayer and worship in the spirit, and my new Havening techniques to remove stress. Today I am a new woman. And subsequently a new mother.
I believe we all need to set on a new path not just in our minds and our healing, but in how we walk out motherhood and ministry. Let us be the ones who model how to be honest in the Church and ask for help, as we care for our bodies and minds. There’s an unspoken pressure us moms face in the west to “bounce back”, both in body, and mentally or emotionally. I don’t believe we can survive like this. We must stop the repeating cycle, not just for our own sake. It’s unfair for the mothers-to-be who are watching us, unfair on the future moms, our sisters and daughters, around us, watching how we bury pain, side step trauma and abandon care of ourselves as we live in fear and shame.
If you need some advice today, hear this, there is no shame in your suffering. Whether you think (or others think) there’s not enough reason to be anxious or depressed, give yourself permission to know your own feelings and experience. God knows what you’re going through, he doesn’t deny or dismiss it.
Pray for someone to see you and understand to come alongside you. God hears the cries of the afflicted, he comforts all who mourn. Pray and worship in the Spirit with groaning if you cannot muster words. Ask God to provide someone to pray faithfully for you. Read Scripture to let the Truth set you free, or listen via audio when reading is hard. Get professional help and therapy. But above all else my first encouragement to you or someone you know who is struggling, is to break the cycle of silence. Tell someone what you’re going through. (Or ask someone if they’re suffering.) Bring the darkness into the Light and seek help.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
(John 1:5 NLT)
Get more help with Maternal Mental Health:
Action PostPartum Psychosis: www.app-network.org
NHS Maternal Mental Health: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/mental-health-problems-pregnant/?
Maternal Mental Health Alliance: https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/
Amy is a mother of 3 children; 8, 6 and 6 months. She and her husband Nicholas are Church Planting in NYC and when she isn’t homeschooling her children (and surviving the pandemic by doing family versions of the Great British Bake Off) she’s reflecting on life on Instagram @raisinglittledisciples and creating free resources for her Children’s Ministry blog at www.raisinglittledisciples.com.