Helping mums with post natal distress

By Patrick O'Sullivan

Lesley Aplin is helping mothers with an experience that can be very lonely - post-natal distress.

"The term post-natal depression is no longer used because many mothers experience anxiety instead - some suffer both," she said.

Two years ago she had a bad experience with her first child.

"I had such high expectations of myself, everything would be done and the house would be amazing. But I couldn't keep up and one day I just cracked."

During her second pregnancy matters became worse. At 28 weeks her father was given eight weeks to live. He was kept beside a fireplace and because she suffered toxaemia, a condition that causes high blood pressure and puts the child at risk, she could not be in the warm room with him.

Her condition worsened at the same time her father's did.

"I got it really bad and they induced me on the same day Dad got put on a morphine drip.

"I thought, he is going to die and here am I, stuck in a hospital bed. They were trying to induce me and I wouldn't budge.

"My midwife, an amazing woman, pulled me out of hospital and took me to Mum and Dad's for a coffee. After two minutes he died."

She gave birth the next day.

"Grieving when you are supposed to be happy was just ...

"My Dad was the centre of my world and everything about my baby was my Dad. The red hair, the eyes, even the smell. It was really hard and I ended up hating her. It was quite extreme and it took me quite a long time to get out of it."

She said the more she shares her story the more she hears of similar experiences.

"People need to talk about it more. People are scared to say it out loud - I hate my baby - in case you get in trouble.

"If I had kept it inside it would have been a mess, absolutely. We wouldn't have survived."

She has started the Plunket Sunbeam Post-natal Distress Support Group for Hawke's Bay mums. The group took to the streets in Hastings last week to spread their message and thank supporting businesses.

"We are on a mission to put out the message that it is okay to have post-natal distress and that there is help out there," she said.

The group meets at Flaxmere Plunket on Wednesdays from 10.30am-12.30pm.

"We offer a combination - some topical information but more importantly we offer peer support."

Severe cases can be referred by doctors to other programmes.

When Hawke's Bay Today spoke to Ms Alpin yesterday she said she was "on a high" at a Hastings play group.

"Everyone is asking me how my children have turned out the way they are - they are beautiful girls."


- Hawkes Bay Today

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