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Dorchester nurses campaign to help new mums
NURSES are urging new mums who are suffering from post-natal depression to come and talk to them.
The group of six nurses, including two who work in Dorchester, are campaigning to raise the awareness of the condition that afflicts one in eight women after the birth of a baby.
They say post-natal depression is still seen as a taboo subject that casts a shadow over the joy of a new baby.
But they want people to open up to their loved ones to talk about the depression that can have a lasting effect on the baby and the wider family as well as the mother.
The nurses – all in a final year of study through Bournemouth University – focused on post-natal depression as part of their studies after discovering that many women go undiagnosed or refuse to accept they might have the condition.
Student children’s nurse Kirsty Wright, who is on a placement at Dorset County Hospital, said: “We looked to identify a need in health care at the moment and realised post-natal depression is an area that affects all of us in the profession and personally.”
We don’t think there is enough support in Dorset for women with post-natal depression but it is treatable, especially by counselling. What we’re saying is that we need to lose the stigma associated with itSarah Moreton
She has created posters and a film advertisement suitable for showing in places like cinemas and in medical centres that the group hope could be incorporated in a campaign – if funding can be found. All convey the message talk about it.
She added: “The posters are aimed at different members of the family as well as the mother. We think the TV soaps should carry a good storyline about it – they don’t do it very well at the moment.”
Sarah Moreton, a student adult general nurse on a placement at the Dorchester hospital, praised high profile actresses and personalities who are frank about their own post-natal depression.
Among them is popular television presenter Fern Britton who has sent a message of support and goodwill to the nurses to wish their campaign well.
Miss Moreton said: “We don’t think there is enough support in Dorset for women with post-natal depression but it is treatable, especially by counselling. What we’re saying is that we need to lose the stigma associated with it.
“The Government has a major Time To Change campaign running to change the approach to mental illness and that’s what we want to achieve with our campaign.”
She added: “Post-natal depression is like cancer was 10 years ago in the way that it’s one of those hush-hush topics.
“A buddy system where mothers help other mothers is most important.
“We contacted Fern Britton because she’s talked openly about having had post-natal depression and her message is talk to someone you love – share the problem.”
The nurses say they know of mothers who have struggled on with depression rather than seek help because they fear their babies will be taken away from them.
Miss Moreton said: “The image in the media is that motherhood is supposed to be a glorious time with everything perfect.
“But it’s not like that for many mums.”
WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED SO FAR?
SARAH and Kirsty are working with midwifery students Daisy Furmidge from the Isle of Wight and Di Tonks from Portsmouth, Hazel Crewe, who is a student learning disability nurse from Bournemouth, and Debbie Hiscock, a student children’s nurse at Poole.
As a result of their investigation and campaign they say: n Post-natal depression can affect anyone – first-time mums or subsequent births and women from every social group n It can sometimes manifest itself before the birth as ante-natal depression n Mothers may not know they have post-natal depression or might refuse to seek help in case the child is taken away n It is different from the so-called baby blues that most women experience in the early days following childbirth n The condition can affect bonding with the new baby and lead to problems within the family and later in life n Help can be sought from the midwife, health visitor or GP and it is worth seeking out any support groups in your area n There should be more facilities and help for mothers in Dorset, especially in offering counselling.
As part of their degree, the project has not received funding but the group is keen to see the campaign continue.
Contact the group through postnataldepressionletstalkaboutit@live.
co.uk to find out more about the campaign or to offer help or funding.