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Life after a PND / anxiety / perinatal mental health diagnosis is different to that of before.  But it isnt worse and it isnt bad. It is just different.... and of course it should be. You are now a parent!
My initial challenges
When I was officially discharged from the care of the Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit we, as a family moved in with my mum and her partner.  We were lucky as their house is big enough and my mum doesnt work so she was on hand to help with all the day to day chores.  Even though I was on medication I still suffered from anxiety so being away from the security of the unit was a challenge in itself but with small steps I was able to start life as a mum (again!).

My first step was to join some mother and baby activity groups.  I will be honest, before my diagnosis I didn't like the idea of these, I would be too busy having lunch with my mum friends and getting my hair done.  Why would I want to spend my time sitting on the floor of a community centre with strangers?  I was wrong.  Firstly they gave me a structure to my week, babies like routine but so do adults. Secondly they helped me get my confidence back.  Initially I attended with my mum but slowly I started going on my own.

Activity classes with baby

Before going to classes
Before I went to any of the classes with my baby I made sure that I told the organisers about me and my PND/anxiety.  This helped me to feel more relaxed about going and also was good for the host to be there to support me should I need it.  Nine times out of ten these classes are run by mums.  They will care & understand.
The first class I chose to go to was only a mile away.  This meant that if the baby started to cry in the car I could a. go home b. be at the venue in minutes.  I also made sure it was at a venue I knew the way to and knew there was parking.  These were all things that I knew could cause me anxiety so I made sure they were covered. 

Our first class was called Hartbeeps.
Original and highly interactive sessions for babies & young children.
Hartbeeps productions for the very young offers classes, parties,
pre-school/nursery/primary school visits, bespoke workshops & touring productions. With 100's of original songs, remixed nursery rhymes, musical stories, BIG fun characters & colourful themes, there is so much to do, learn & make believe…
taken from
The format of this class was perfect for me. All the mums sit round a large rug in a room with the babies in front of you.  There are approximately 15 mums of babies of similar ages in each session,
which lasts 45 mins.  The host of the class co-ordinates the sing along session with so much energy and fun that prompts you to interact with your baby and refreshes your memory of all the baby friendly
songs you forgot that you knew. How much you interact with the other mums (and dads) is up to you and as the class is baby led you do what you need to and when so if your baby needs to drink / eat / be changed you are free to do it.  I loved these sessions so much that Zachary and I attended them from 3 months to nearly 18 months and we still return for the special events that they hold.
We attended the classes in Brentwood, Essex with Sakura & Tarnya but they are nationwide.

Hartbeeps Brentwood
About Hartbeeps
Hartbeeps Find a Class
The next class I enrolled in was swimming lessons for my baby not because I wanted him to swim but I liked the idea of developing my bond with him as this had been a struggle at the start.

The company I chose to go with was called Water Babies.
From our extensive experience, we know that learning to swim at a young age offers all sorts of significant benefits. Baby swimming is a fascinating subject: there’s a long history to it, and a pattern to the way babies learn and the way their little bodies develop, and our lessons are all designed with this in mind.
taken from
I attended these classes with my mum in tow as I found the thought of trying to get myself and the baby ready in a small changing room daunting.  I wasnt alone with these fears as every single person came with a mum/mother in law/partner!  See even the mums without a mental health diagnosis have new mum anxieties.  The classes last for 30 minutes and are amazing.  Not only are you giving them the skills to literally save their life in the future, the 30 minutes you have with them in the pool can't happen anywhere else. The class was very small with only six mums and babies in the pool and are very informal and relaxed.  Again doing this every week not only was wonderful for the baby, it gave me more of a routine and structure to my week.  We have just started chapter 5 and are loving just as much as the day we started.
We attended the classes in Billericay, Essex with Sarah but they are nationwide.

Water Babies Essex
About Water Babies
In addition to the above we also tried a number of other clubs and activities run locally.  I found out about these through the following links.  Always check to see if the class is running before you turn up.
Netmums : Local Clubs and Classes
Whats on for little ones
Good old Google

Travelling with a baby

This part of being a new mum / parent is BIG.  It is another thing we have never had to do, and I believe all new parents are nervous about travelling with a child.    Take your time and do what you feel comfortable with and when you are ready.  Your colleagues don't have to see your baby weeks after they are born, send them a photograph... they will cope!

In the mother and baby unit this was a key part of my recovery. Just building up the confidence to walk out of the unit and to the main building of the hospital was frightening and cause a lot of worry for me.  When I came out of the unit, I used to go on short walks with the baby in his pram just round the corner. I slowly built these up each week, putting no pressure on myself and often not having anywhere to go.
Walking isnt just about getting from a to b.  I use walking if I am having a difficult time getting the baby to nap / sleep or if he is grouchy and needs a bit of fresh air and distraction.  it is also good to just clear your head.  Being on your own especially with a baby is intense.  If you need a break, both of you wrap up warm, put the baby in their pram and go out for a few mins.

My only advice here from experience is be prepared.  Be prepared for having no clue how your baby is going to cope on the journey but know that you are going to get to where you are going and you will both be ok! You will not be the first parent who turns the radio up a little bit or purposely takes the long way to where you are going just for a few more minutes peace and quiet while the baby sleeps. 
I always have a few spare nappies and wipes in the car for any sudden emergencies and now he is older there is always water available too.   Keep them entertained with a variety of toys/books that they like and make sure they are not too hot or too cold.
A crying baby is stressful and intense, stop for breaks if you need to.

Public Transport


In all honesty I prayed for this day never to happen and really put off even viewing nurserys in the hope that he wouldnt had to go.  Its ironic that when he was first born I didn't feel anything for him and by this stage (12 months) I didn't want him to leave my side!  But I was returning to work so this wasn't optional. 

I have two pieces of advice when it comes to sending your baby to nursery.
1.  Visit as many as you can, and not just once. Ask to visit at different times of the day, maybe with your partner one time and on your own another.  Ask as many questions as you can think of when you are there (I wrote them down before hand so I didnt forget anything) and don't be afraid to follow up the visit with anything extra you think of when you leave.
2.  The nursery you chose will offer short induction/taster sessions for your child to ensure a happy transition from being with you to being at nursery.  This time isn't just for the baby it is for you too.  If you are struggling after the taster sessions ask if you can have a few more.  The nursery should be understanding and supportive of this.

As I knew I was going to find this time difficult and that it would probably bring back my anxiety  I was honest with the nursery and told them about my experience.  As mums/women that had been in the industry a very long time they were very understanding and supportive and as much as they made the baby comfortable they also ensure I was ok too.    We had three taster sessions to start with that were short sessions in the baby room.  We went for 1 session together (mum and baby), 1 session where I was on site while he was on his own and then the last one where I went home for a short while to leave him to play with the nursery nurses.  In addition to this I booked 4 x half day sessions for the two weeks before I returned to work so that he could settle in, I could get things done but mainly so that I knew I could get there quickly if I needed to for peace of mind.

The return to work didnt run aswell as I had hoped as my anxiety did return with a vengence.  Both myself and the baby suffered from illness both getting chest infections and he was admitted to hospital twice, once by ambulance. This ontop of the change of returning to work, Zachary going to nursery and our routine being very different to the last 12 months set me back.  But this time I knew what the problem was and also how to deal with it. I went to my GP and discussed it with him, he signed me off for two weeks to get better physically.  Zachary and I recovered from our infections and after the two weeks we returned back to work and nursery as planned and as they say the rest is history.

We have experienced the standard list of ailments since attending nursery... conjuncitivis, colds, coughs, infections etc and there has been times when i have worried there is something wrong with my baby.   Be assured this is normal and you just have to Google it to see it is just one of those "phases!".  Below is an article that will hopefully set your mind at rest if you are going through this.

I was lucky that both of the nursery's we have chosen for Zachary  (2 - because we moved house) have been amazing, supportive and VERY patient with me during this very big and important milestone.  If you are not happy with the nursery you have every right to change.  Below is the link to Ofsted that you can use to search all of the Ofsted registered childcare providers by your postcode or town.  This is a great resource to search for childminders, nurserys and schools.

And if you live in Brentwood, Essex then I cannot fault Little Acorns based at Woodlands School.  They are patient, understanding and supportive but most importantly they communicate.  I know everything about my sons day, upcoming events, his progress, his emotional and physical wellbeing and I know he is safe there.  You are in charge of your childs development - don't be afraid to speak to the staff and ask questions.

Sending the baby to nursery

Little Acorns
Ofsted search
Nursery = sickness!