Reading them, I found myself saying "yes!" quite a few times. The only pregnancy I'm an expert on is my own, so this post is very self-centred. But I felt that my emotional well-being during my pregnancy was the one area that was really overlooked in my care. Even though I had a brilliant and supportive midwife, somehow we never talked about how I was finding the whole thing emotionally. And I really struggled at times.
So why didn't we talk about it?
I'll feel better next week, I kept thinking, I don't need to tell her about this now.
Partly I didn't want to admit how I was feeling. Sometimes I felt like I was making a huge mistake. That I hated being pregnant. I felt I'd be a terrible mother. I couldn't tell anyone though. Not my partner, in case he realised how awful a choice he'd made. Not my midwife as what would she think? Not anyone in my pregnancy classes, as they all seemed to be sailing through it.
So I felt lonely and isolated and a freak. All those celebrities showing off their beautiful bumps. #ilovemybump is what you get on twitter. Not #ifeelambivalentaboutmybump and certainly not #ihatemybump.
And yet pregnancy is one of the biggest changes a woman can go through. Your body changes. Your hormones change. Your lifestyle changes. Your sense of self changes.It makes total sense to me to provide extra support to women at this time. Yes, we offer them seats on buses and tell them they're glowing. But we don't talk enough about any negatives.
For me, it would've been helpful if my midwife had asked how I was coping, at every appointment. Your mental state is as important as your blood sugar level, if not more so.
I would like to have been given info about support groups like PANDAS. Even if I'd never braved a meeting, just knowing there were other women out there struggling would have helped.
I'd like PANDAS' slogan that "it's ok not to feel ok" to be widespread. Our society likes everyone to be ok. It's hard for anyone to admit they're not. But if they're pregnant as well, it's like you get hit with a double whammy of people's expectations that you're OK.
I'm lucky in that I have a super-supportive partner, and had found some really helpful ways of dealing with my depression before I got pregnant. Even with all of that, there were times in my pregnancy when I felt lower and uglier and weirder than ever before. The thought that my poor baby would have such an awful mum haunted me.
I'm pleased to say I had a good birth and am enjoying being a mum much more than I thought I would in pregnancy. But for those few months, I felt like I was in a black hole. So I welcome these guidelines and I really hope they help us develop a culture around pregnancy that allows women to say how they feel and get the help they need.