Having a baby is such an exciting time, bringing with it shifting emotions and tremendous change. For some new parents, these adjustments to family life can impact negatively on their mental health. AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, investigates…

When we asked for your experiences on the support available during pregnancy, birth and postnatally during our health-themed month earlier this year, the responses from army parents threw up some interesting issues. We heard from mothers suffering from poor perinatal mental health, difficult pregnancies and births, fathers being deployed soon after the birth or missing their child’s arrival altogether. There were also several couples who felt they’d received a lack of support from their chain of command.

Jodie’s experience reflects many of the issues that you’ve raised with us, she explains: “I didn’t feel myself when my second baby was eight weeks old, and after speaking to my health visitor I realised I had postnatal depression and anxiety. Having hubby away or on guard was very hard – it made me feel like I was completely on my own.

“I posted about it on Instagram as it still seems like such a taboo subject, and I honestly felt like the military community really understood and supported me. My husband was amazing when he was home, and when he wasn’t, I had my lovely friends online, who knew what I was going through. I still suffer nearly two years on, but my advice is don’t bottle it up. Your feelings are completely valid, and you aren’t failing!”

What would help?

We asked you whether a specific support network for partners, wives and servicewomen would be helpful and the response was a resounding ‘yes’. There were also offers of support from some of you who are working in this field such as doulas and therapists, who would like to help set something up. This is work in progress and I’m looking into some of the networks that are already up and running, so do keep an eye out for further details.

Often, we don’t hear the experiences of fathers. So in summer’s Army&You, we take a look at some of the excellent support that’s available for both new mums and dads in the armed forces community and beyond.

Read more at bit.ly/AYsum21

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