Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Talking mental health: 18 week update

Last week, I met with my consultant for the first time, and another midwife, who both specialised in Mental Health. I felt this appointment coming a LONG time, so I can't say I was too anxious about it. I was more looking forward to it than anything else (doesn't sound like me I know!) I just wanted to speak to someone, tell them how I felt and for them to know how to help me or at least tell me it's normal to feel how I'm feeling. Hence me writing this post for you guys. 

The only thing I was a bit worried about (of course there was something!) was whether I got on with my consultant or not. I'm a bit funny with new people or people that I just don't "click" with. I become quite uncooperative, especially if they are being so direct and harsh with their words. Luckily for me (and baby), we got on really well. He was quite funny actually. Put me at ease straight away!

I'll get on to what we talked about in a minute. But first of all, another anxiety of mine was why we hadn't heard the baby's heartbeat yet. I was reading on other blogs, Twitter etc. that people had already heard their baby's heartbeat and I should have heard it at the 12 week scan. ANXIETY OVER. We heard the baby's heart beat! 

I don't know what I was expecting really, but it was just so magical (that sounds really corny, but it was). It was a lot louder than I imagined AND SO FAST. It was weird, it sounded like a heartbeat underwater and every time I laughed (I was nervous, I was nearly in tears), he sounded like it was talking! It was so funny. But so incredible. 

This was probably the first time I really felt connected to the baby in my belly. My bumps not really that big and despite feeling ill all the time, I don't "feel" pregnant. But hearing that beautiful heartbeat, make it so real. I just want to listen to it all the time. Also, after reading online I wish I had counted the beats. Apparently, a heartbeat nearer to 150 is said to be a girl.  Just an Old Wives' Tale of course.
Anyway, I then had my blood pressure taken again (which was actually lower than usual?) and then it was onto talking mental health. 

They asked all the usual questions, i.e. my home life, if i'm on medication, how I've been feeling etc. And apparently, I'm a "typical" mum to be (with mental health issues). Why? 

BECAUSE my doctor had advised me to come off my medication and "Doctor Google" also told me the same. 

My consultant and midwife said this probably wasn't the best idea for me personally and no one should ever come off their medication without consulting it with their midwife. Doctors will always tell you to just come off of it, but midwives and consultants know the pros and cons a lot more and can weigh it up for you, personally. Considering how bloody crappy I've been feeling since coming off my medication, he's probably right. 

He showed me this website (on Google), called Bumps. Bumps is a website for mum's to be to check if their medication is safe to continue taking during pregnancy. It's perfect. No "Doctor Googling", it's the website midwives and consultants use, so you know all the information is legit. It told me about all the potential risks for the baby, withdrawal symptoms when the baby is born, if it's safe to breastfeed while taking it etc. 

It is a great way to come to a unbiased decision with your midwife or consultant, unlike Google, which just states it's not safe, so you stop taking it. 

He has prescribed me a lower dose of my current medication (which is Escitalopram, if you are/were on the same) and handed me a print out of the pros and cons. I'm still deciding whether to go back on it or not. It's a pretty big decision, especially as I have come off of it. Of course, he told me, he recommends I go back on it, but he's given me alternatives, i.e. counselling, mindfulness. 

It did open my eyes a bit, I've been through counselling many times over the years and have found mindfulness a great technique, but sometimes you get into a rut. You've been feeling better for a few months and stopped using your techniques so often, so you kind of get out of the habit. I decided to buy myself a mindfulness book (or two - I couldn't decide ok!) to remind me how amazing this technique really is and to reintroduce it into every day life again. I will writing a post about this soon.

Another part of my mental health, besides from depression and anxiety, is anxorexia/bulimia. This is something on my mind nearly every day. As I was under a lot of stress before I found out I was pregnant, I began losing more and more weight. It just sneaked up on me and before I knew it, I was down to a low BMI again. Obviously, when I found out I was pregnant, the weight crept up and I was eating healthily and often. However, when I visited the midwife for the first time (at 11 weeks pregnant), my BMI was still low. Of course, it isn't now. I've gained over a stone and half!! Due to the low booking BMI, my consultant is worried about the growth of the baby. 

They have set up a graph with all the measurements at the scans, so they will be able to keep an eye on the baby's growth. For this reason, I've been booked it to have a few extra scans. Obviously I am worried about this, that the baby won't grow properly (another con of my bloody mental health issues), but they've put my mind at ease for picking up on this and scheduling in more scans. 

All in all, it was SO helpful to speak with them both about what had been going on and how we can plan ahead in this pregnancy, to make sure me and baby are both safe and happy. They provided me with all the numbers I may need i.e. if i'm worried about something, want to speak to my midwife, out of hours numbers etc. 

Also, they've set up a "safety net" for when the baby is born. Obviously, the concern around my mental health isn't so high at the moment but after the baby has been born, i'll be at a much higher risk - postnatal depression, losing weight too quickly, getting swamped in my eating disorder, not sleeping enough... So they've arranged for a community midwife to see me for a few days consecutively and I'm going to book an appointment with a counsellor for a few weeks after the birth. All just to make sure everything is ok with me and baby and so we can nip any issues in the bud before they get out of hand. 

I was very worried to talk to the consultant and midwife in full about my mental health difficulties because I was worried they'd think I'd be a bad mother because of it. But it's honestly made me feel so much better and helped me to realise that just because of mental health issues, I can still be a great mum. If you have any worries, tell your midwife you would like to see a consultant about your mental health. That's what they're there for. And they're amazing.

In other news, 2 weeks to go until my 20 week scan! Eeeeeeeeeeeeek.

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